SpaceX releases preliminary data on 6/28 Falcon 9 failure

More than three weeks ago during the launch of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station the Falcon 9 second stage suffered an anomaly that resulted in the lost of the spacecraft and its payloads.

Today Elon Musk announced that the preliminary investigation into the accident indicates that a strut inside the Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tank on the 2nd stage failed causing the liquid helium bottle to dislodge and hit the top of the LOX tank causing the explosion.  Elon stressed multiple times during the call that this is a preliminary result so far.

 

SpaceX have tested 1000s of the struts since the accident and have found a number of failures below rated value, including one that failed below 2,000 lbs.

During the call Elon admitted that SpaceX did not perform Quality Control on the strut that failed and instead relied in the part meeting the specification as provided by the supplier.  They will be revising their processes to ensure all parts of the rocket are fully QCed for future flights.  While this will increase SpaceX costs during construction of the rocket they didn’t expect it to have much if any of an impact on the cost of the rocket.

Elon also announced that Dragon V1 didn’t have the ability to deploy the chutes in case of an emergency during ascent, the next flight will have the ability should it be needed which would have most likely have resulted in pressurized cargo being saved. They expect to delay flights until September but at present don’t know who will be the first flight manifest will most likely change.  Again because this is preliminary so may change should another cause become obvious.

Elon also announced that due to the investigation the flight of Falcon Heavy will most likely be delayed until April 2016.  

Elon also admitted that most of the people who now work for SpaceX have never seen a failure due to all the successful launches in the last seven years.  This had caused most of them to become complacent about the difficulty of launching rockets.  They have now learned the hard way just what is involved. 

3 thoughts on “SpaceX releases preliminary data on 6/28 Falcon 9 failure”

  1. No one plans for failures to happen, but when working with very, very complex apparatuses, i.e. rockets and spacecrafts, the probability factor cannot ever be reduced to zero. SpaceX employees have every right to be proud of their record, they have done the impossible within their industry.

    I have worked 17 years on 2 missile ranges and at JPL on the lunar exploration and manned Apollo missions, and have seen many, many rockets bite the dust. We had an Atlas V launch last week here at the Cape, and they praise it being 55 launches. I remember when they were lucky to get one in five Atlas rockets into the air and down the range.

    Tomorrow they are launching a Delta rocket, which is an advanced Thor rocket booster. While at Johnson Island we had nuclear warheads on top of them to detonate just over our heads. The most reliable rocket in our arsenal, one exploding and landing 100 yards from my radar; lying on the runway outside the door. A second one a few feet off the pad, with the warhead still intact. We all still glow in the dark, some 53 years later from the plutonium spill.

    I take my hat off to the SpaceX crew, you have done the impossible in my book and have every right to stand tall over any of your competition.

    With that said, I hope to compete with you in the future with real teleportation! For certain you will be the ones to beat to Mars and beyond!

    1. Thanks for the comment, I checked out your web site very cool will be keeping an eye on that technology as it will be key to the future.

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