Science

SpaceX Falcon 9 Explosion: Space Firm Says It Has Found The Fatal Flaw

By Christie Abagon , Oct 30, 2016 03:36 PM EDT

SpaceX released a statement Friday on their Falcon 9's September 1 explosion. The company confirmed that system flaw is not the reason and said the handling of pressurized helium being loaded onto the craft, which they have been able to replicate, may have been the problem.

The joint investigation by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), NASA and the United States Air Force found out that liquid oxygen tank was highly affected by changes in temperature. "The root cause of the breach has not yet been confirmed, but attention has continued to narrow to one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the [liquid oxygen] tank," SpaceX said.

In the statement released, SpaceX said, "efforts are now focused on two areas - finding the exact root cause, and developing improved helium loading conditions that allow SpaceX to reliably load Falcon 9. With the advanced state of the investigation, we also plan to resume stage testing in Texas in the coming days, while continuing to focus on completion of the investigation."

Investigation is ongoing, but the company said it has not disrupted plans for their return to flight by year-end. Customers hope that this will push through. One of their major stakeholders, Iridium, said that they are confident that SpaceX is doing a very thorough investigation.

Matt Desch, Chief Executive of Iridium, said, "We've been on hold since SpaceX's launch pad incident at Cape Canaveral eight weeks ago and have been following the investigation closely to determine when SpaceX will be able to return to flight. I remain hopeful that they'll return to launching this year."

"Also, I don't know if Iridium Next will be SpaceX's first launch once they return to flight or whether they might schedule a launch from Florida ahead of us. Either way, we're comfortable with SpaceX's investigation and the progress they're making and I assure you that we won't proceed to launch if we aren't confident in SpaceX and their investigation outcome."

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