SpaceX is expected to return to flight on the Space Coast next week with its first Falcon 9 launch since a rocket exploded last year.

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket expected to launch next week
  • Launch to happen at Kennedy Space Center
  • 1st SpaceX launch in Florida since explosion in September
  • RELATED: Launch schedule

The launch will happen no earlier than Monday, Jan. 30. We are working to confirm an exact launch date with SpaceX, but we have not gotten an answer yet. There are reports the launch may happen later in the week.

Either way, the launch window will last about two hours. 

This launch has a historic aspect: It will happen on Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. That historic pad has seen countless rockets and shuttles lift off over the decades. It would be the first launch from KSC since space shuttle Atlantis ended the program in 2011.

The Falcon 9 rocket also will not attempt to land as other rockets have in the past. Over the weekend, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that the payload for this flight, the EchoStar, is too heavy for a landing, so the rocket will be expendable.

In the future, heavy payloads will fly on either the Falcon Heavy rocket or the upgraded Falcon 9 rocket (Block 5), which will start flying later this year.

SpaceX implemented several changes after a Falcon 9 rocket exploded last September on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 

Investigators determined that a failure in the rocket's helium pressure tanks likely caused the explosion.

Part of the reason the Falcon may be launching from Kennedy Space Center next week is because of ongoing repair work at SpaceX's launch pad at Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX already had a successful return to flight earlier this year in California. A rocket carried a satellite for Iridium Communications into orbit and landed successfully.