Elon Musk Says Falcon 9 Explosion Caused By Failing Strut

Posted: Jul 21 2015, 1:14am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Elon Musk Says Falcon 9 Explosion Caused by Failing Strut
Photo Credit: Getty Images

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has revealed the cause of the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket on June 28. Today at noon Pacific Elon Musk informs press in phone call about the findings.

Three weeks after the failed mission of a Dragon spacecraft to the ISS Elon Musk has talked about the cause of the Falcon 9 explosion in a call with journalists today.

Elon Musk has presented an updated with preliminary findings of the explosion. The call started with Musk saying that the initial assessment of the explosion is that everything was fine in the first stage. The explosion happened within one second of problem indication. There was no time for counter measures. SpaceX could have saved the Dragon spacecraft with the right software and parachutes. This will be added in future releases.

The cause of the explosion was a failing strut that was holding down the helium tank. The strut appeared undamaged before launch. SpaceX will add extra testing of struts to avoid problem. SpaceX could replicate the problem by testing thousands of these struts and some failed - bad luck.

Several hundred struts fly on every Falcon 9 vehicle, with a cumulative flight history of several thousand. The strut that we believe failed was designed and material certified to handle 10,000 lbs of force, but failed at 2,000 lbs, a five-fold difference. Detailed close-out photos of stage construction show no visible flaws or damage of any kind.

Despite the fact that these struts have been used on all previous Falcon 9 flights and are certified to withstand well beyond the expected loads during flight, SpaceX will no longer use these particular struts for flight applications.  In addition, SpaceX will implement additional hardware quality audits throughout the vehicle to further ensure all parts received perform as expected per their certification documentation.

It still will take time to work out the details of the fix and finish analyzing the data. The next Falcon 9 mission is not before September. The incident has no timeline effect on the crew dragon project says Musk.

SpaceX says that it will catch up and fly all customers booked for 2015 by the end of the year.

Elon Musk's full statement about the Falcon explosion will be published on SpaceX site.


SpaceX Explosion

Space X's Falcon 9 rocket as it lifts off from space launch complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida June 28, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Space X Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo spacecraft lifted off from space launch complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida June 28, 2015. The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after liftoff. "The vehicle has broken up," said NASA commentator George Diller, after NASA television broadcast images of the white rocket falling to pieces.

A video of the Falcon 9 explosion can be viewed in this report

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi Lugmayr () is the founding chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml@i4u.com.




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