Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is switching its first and second payloads around due to another hold-up caused by a delay to the US Air Force Lockheed Martin Titan IV launch from a neighbouring pad at Vandenberg AFB, California.

The maiden flight of SpaceX’s Falcon I will now be from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific, in late September, carrying the US Air Force Academy’s Falconsat2 satellite. What was to have been SpaceX’s first payload, the US Department of Defense’s Tacsat, will now be launched from Vandenberg after the Titan.

Company founder Elon Musk had said that further delays at Vandenberg would mean a shift to a Kwajalein launch in August. But the timing of the USAF decision to delay the Titan IV complicated logistics. “It’s logistically difficult to get to the Atoll. There is just a monthly barge because it’s way out in the Pacific,” says SpaceX.

The company will continue engine testing in Texas before shipping the rocket to Kwajalein, implementing changes resulting from the 27 May hot-fire test at Vandenberg. A full launch practice with hot-fire test will also be performed at Kwajalein.

Source: Flight International