The SpaceX program has been suspended following the explosion of the Falcon 9 rocket last September 1. Since that time, SpaceX has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the explosion. Now its investigation says that its helium pressurization system on the second stage booster might have caused the explosion.
While the investigation points to the helium system as the cause of the explosion, no detail has yet come out as to how this breach could have happened, The Verge reported. The company's investigation team is continuing with its work. About 3,000 channels of data are being looked into as well as audio and video recordings.
The failure of its helium system is not related to another accident on June 25, 2015 that also involved the second stage helium pressurization bottle. In that accident, an internal strut failure was said to be the cause of the rocket's failure. The September 1 accident's main cause is still being determined.
Included in the damage are areas of the pad systems. However, the Falcon Support Building did not suffer any damage, according to CBS News. Other SpaceX facilities near the launch site have not been affected by the explosion either.
SpaceX is working on the investigation together with representatives from the FAA, NASA and the Air Force. It hopes to have the full report of the investigation before it plans to resume Falcon 9 testing and flights by November. SpaceX is still operating as well with engineers building rockets and systems at its Hawthorne, California factory.
With its targeted November flight operations SpaceX has two options where it can resume tests. One would be at Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral while the other would be at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Not only is SpaceX getting ready for the resumption of its Falcon 9 flights, the private space company is also preparing vehicles that would transport astronauts to the International Space Station. This is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX hopes to use the lessons learned in the Falcon 9 explosion to make the Commercial Crew Program better.
SpaceX faces more challenges as ULA is also eyeing for an Air Force contract, as an ItechPost report says.