SpaceX still investigating Falcon 9 rocket explosion

Elon Musk-led Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) is still investigating the explosion of its Falcon 9 rocket to pin point the glitch to prevent any such devastating accident in the future.

The private-sector space firm’s Falcon 9 rocket ended in an explosion soon after its launch at Cape Canaveral launch pad in early September. The company’s experts are reportedly examining the explosion from all angles, including sabotage implications. Some reports suggested that SpaceX’s rival firm, the United Launch Alliance (ULA), might have something to do with the explosion.

The investigators are also focusing on the cryogenic helium system inside the rocket’s second stage liquid oxygen tank, which contained fuel that would have been used to move the cargo, an Amos-6 communications satellite, from Earth’s low orbit into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

An operational error would be fortunate for the company because any flaw in the hardware would require it to overhaul the design of the Falcon 9 rocket, which would take many more months and delay the rocket’s return to flight.

Scott Pace, the director of the George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, said, “It could be good if it turns out to be an operational problem, because that is easily remedied, rather than a design or manufacturing problem. But you have to ask why did that operation failure happen? Was [it] their lack of training or understanding of what was going on?”

SpaceX is one the two private companies that have been awarded NASA contracts for delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The other is Orbital ATK. Despite the Falcon explosion, SpaceX has expressed optimism that it will not cause any major cargo-delivery delays.