SpaceX Offers Update On September 1 Rocket Loss

Posted: Jan 3 2017, 5:06am CST | by , Updated: Jan 3 2017, 5:47am CST , in Latest Science News


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FAA offers first insights into fault that led to loss of Falcon 9 rocket

The FAA has been investigating what exactly caused the loss of the Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX tried to launch back on September 1. The FAA investigation has spanned four months and has involved the USAF, NASA, and the NTSB working alongside the FAA. The investigation into the cause of the failure has finally yielded results with the FAA listing what cause the explosion.

The accident occurred at Space Launch Complex 40 known as SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. During the investigation the team viewed more than 3,000 channels of video and telemetry data that covered the very brief timeline of events that led to the loss of the launch vehicle. SpaceX notes that there were only 93 milliseconds from the first sign of anomalous data to the loss of the second stage of the launch vehicle.

The loss of the vehicle occurred on the ground allowing investigators to also include umbilical data in their investigation along with ground-based video and physical debris. The investigation into the cause of the explosion has concluded that one of three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) that are found inside the second stage liquid oxygen tank failed. The team concluded that this failure was likely due to accumulation of oxygen between the COPV liner and overwrap in a void or buckle in the liner.

The COPVs store cold helium and are used to maintain tank pressure with each of the units having an aluminum liner with carbon overwrap. Recovered COPVs had buckles in their liners and pooling of super chilled liquid oxygen in those buckles led to broken fibers and friction that ignited the oxygen in the overwrap leading to failure. Corrective actions to prevent this from happening again include fixes for all causes that led to the failure and subsequent loss of the vehicle, changes will include allowing for warmer temperature helium to be loaded. Long term fixes will include design changes to the COPV; SpaceX plans to return to flight operations on January 8.

via SpaceX

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/3" rel="author">Shane McGlaun</a>
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