Science

SpaceX Explosion Mystery About To Be Solved, Says Firm’s President

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 11, 2016 03:00 AM EDT
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The investigation on the explosion of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rcoket is ongoing. The explosion occurred last September 1 on a test run for the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket. The investigation, however, is likely to end soon as SpaceX targets November for the resumption of tests and rocket flights.

According to Space News, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that the investigation is nearing to an explanation as to what happened to its Falcon 9 rocket last September 1. The SpaceX president said that the cause would not likely be a vehicle or an engineering design issue, but rather, a business process flaw. However, she did not elaborate further as to what that issue might be.

Earlier it has been reported that the investigation has been focusing on the rocket's helium system on the second stage liquid oxygen tank. It's speculated that there has been a breach on the helium system, which might have caused the rocket to explode. Last October 5 at the Asia-Pacific Satellite Communications Council in Malaysia, Shotwell said that the cause of the notorious Falcon 9 explosion is an operations issue and not due to flaws in the bottles that store helium.

There has also been much speculation whether the Falcon 9 has been sabotaged, as Jalopnik reports. Competition between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance is fierce, especially in the face of recent talks about sending people to Mars. SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Twitter last October 5 however said that sabotage is unlikely the cause.

SpaceX suffered an earlier Falcon 9 failure last June 25, 2015. In that accident, the second stage helium bottle was also involved, though its failure has been determined to be on its internal strut. That accident is not related to the September 1 Falcon 9 explosion.

Investigation is being conducted by SpaceX together with NASA, the FAA and the Air Force. A full report about the investigation is being anticipated prior to the resumption of tests and flights this November. SpaceX hopes to use Launch Complex 39A or Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as possible launch sites.

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