A new mandate was put into place which increased the minimum coverage requirement by five times.
SpaceX changed its launch schedule to today at 1:35am but was required to carry far more pre-launch liability insurance than it previously held. The launch had been postponed as a result of high winds at Cape Canveral. SpaceX will webcast the launch so it can be viewed live.
The original launch had been scheduled for March 14, but the delay was considered necessary.
This particular mission was created to add the Echo Star XXIII – a communications satellite – into geosynchronous orbit with the earth. Originally, the FAA had granted SpaceX with a license to be able to launch from launch pad 39A. That license was issued on March 1 and required the company to carry pre-launch liability insurance worth $63 million. That amount is five times higher than the mandated coverage from the previous launches.
This higher liability insurance was designed to provide coverage to government property if things go wrong.
Should an accident occur before liftoff happens, the coverage would pay for damage to government property. This additional coverage requirement was not implemented without any reason. Back in September 2016, a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a launch pad belonging to the Air Force. That explosion occurred during pre-flight testing. The rocket wasn’t the only thing to be damaged. The facility was damaged as well.
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Prior to that accident, the government had required pre-launch liability coverage worth a much smaller $13 million. Moreover, February’s resupply mission to the International Space Station didn’t come with any requirements for additional coverage at all.
SpaceX also carries its own separate insurance policy for covering government property during the launch. However, should an accident such as an explosion happen, the rocket may damage itself, the area around the launch or other components of the facility. Neither the FAA nor SpaceX have identified the specific reasons for which the pre-launch liability insurance coverage was increased by such a large amount. This launch will represent the first time a Falcon 9 rocket will be reused in its launch of the Airbus-built SES 10 telecommunications satellite.