The SpaceX mysterious rocket explosion has caught the attention of many, as a search for the cause continues. So far, the Air Force and NASA were brought into the investigation as an extra pair of eyes, supervised by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
So, what happened on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2016, that cost over $200 million in satellite damage? It appears that a Falcon 9 rocket and an Israeli communications satellite were damaged by the combustion as well, at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The explosion was so damaging that it put SpaceX’s Florida launch pad out of business for the immediate future. However, the problem on September 2, was that the combustion took out the company’s main launch site. However, two days later, the problem appears to be solved, as a decision was made to continue launching space rockets from the other launch location, in California. In the meantime, SpaceX is undergoing massive repairs.
But the repairs are small in comparison to the investigation into the unexpected blast. Still, the real mystery here is what happened on that Thursday?
According to The Los Angeles Times, SpaceX spokesman Phil Larson, alleged in an announcement: “We are at this time in the initial progression of reviewing roughly 3,000 stations of video and telemetry information showing a time period of only 35-55 milliseconds.”
SpaceX is permitted to perform their own investigation, as stated by federal law. However, it is the job of the FAA to supervise this kind of analysis. This is not SpaceX’s, first time dealing with explosions.
In June 2015, CRS-7 unleashed a Falcon 9, along with a Dragon capsule, to bring materials to the International Space Station. Everything seemed to be working up until 2 minutes and 19 seconds into the take-off, when a haze of vapor suddenly appeared outside the craft, observed by the tracking camera.
Not many seconds later, a cloud shape formed, the tanks exploded and the mission failed. A broken strut was the problem due to the breaking helium pressure vessels from the force of acceleration. This triggered a breach and permitted helium to leak, causing the combustion of the rocket.
Interesting enough, nobody knew much about it because the report was not openly released to the public. However, keeping it obscure appeared to raise some eyebrows of suspicion. In June 2016, NASA’s Office of Inspector General alleged that SpaceX implementing the entire investigation by themselves, “raises a concern of conflict of interest.”
NASA believes that there are a slew of things that could have caused the accident. Which is the reason they do not want SpaceX conducting the investigation on their own. NASA believes the internal investigation could leave out donating influences that “will not get completely dealt with in order to stop future catastrophes.”
It will take at least another six months to actually find out what happened. However, there are no worries for SpaceX because they are not going to yield to the burden of a complete launch schedule anytime soon.
Without an exact cause of the sudden explosion and a slow investigation, it appears that answers to the mysterious SpaceX rocket explosion will have to wait.
By Jomo Merritt
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Los Angeles Times: SpaceX rocket exploded in an instant. Figuring out why involves a mountain of data
The Verge: SpaceX says it can continue launching Falcon 9 rockets from two other launch pads
The Haaretz: SpaceX Blast Could Cost Israeli Taxpayers Millions in Damages
Image Courtesy of NASA/SSC’s Official Flickr Page – Public Domain License