LONDON— Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. may lose a spacecraft launch order from a major customer, Inmarsat PLC, even as the European satellite operator voiced confidence in the rocket company’s ability to return to flight this year.
SpaceX, as the rocket company is named, lost one of its Falcon 9 rockets in an explosion during a routine refueling exercise in September at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It destroyed an Israeli satellite Facebook Inc. planned to use to provide internet access to people in sub-Saharan Africa.
Investigators believe a refueling procedure led to the failure. Company officials hope to resume flights before year-end. Pentagon and industry officials said launch resumption before mid-January is doubtful.
Inmarsat Chief Executive Rupert Pearce said Thursday the launch of its fourth Global Xpress satellite due this year on a SpaceX rocket would be delayed until next year and that the company may shift a spacecraft due for launch next year to another rocket.