A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a special $200m satellite for Facebook blew up on the launch pad at the beginning of the month in what appeared to be an unexplained anomaly.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been updating the public on Twitter in an open fashion as he learns more, and has been very open to announcing that the company’s investigation is still ongoing while they continue to scratch their heads about what could have possibly happened to cause the explosion.
This is reportedly the most confusing anomaly mystery he has ever had to solve in the past 14 years.
Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation. Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 9, 2016
One thing he points out that makes this anomaly very interesting is that the explosion actually occurred during a “routine filling operation,” so the engines weren’t turned on and there was no heat source near the rocket.
Important to note that this happened during a routine filling operation. Engines were not on and there was no apparent heat source.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 9, 2016
And it gets stranger; adding even more fuel to the existing raging fire, some video footage captured of the anomaly actually appears to show something flying past the tip of the rocket at a high rate of speed just before the explosion:
Musk points out in Twitter that some of his own video footage actually appears to provide an audible "bang" just before the explosion, which is raising a lot of eyebrows amidst the confusion:
Particularly trying to understand the quieter bang sound a few seconds before the fireball goes off. May come from rocket or something else.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 9, 2016
This is opening doors to conspiracy theories that perhaps something sabotaged the launch by purposely harming the rocket. You can judge for yourself by watching the video footage below. The explosion occurs at about 1:10-1:12 and the flying object is clearly seen entering from the right side of the frame:
As the investigation is ongoing, Musk asks anyone who may have any fresh footage or photographs of the anomaly to send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org. These materials may be used in the investigation to find out just what happened.
SpaceX is currently getting a lot of support from NASA, FAA, and AFPAA in this investigation to get to the bottom of things. NASA, especially, is curious to find out what happened, because soon NASA may actually be trusting SpaceX rockets with astronauts' lives to get them to and from the International Space Station.
It's worth noting that SpaceX's launch site took a lot of damage and it will take months to rebuild. The worst-case scenario is SpaceX won't be launching any rockets for as much as 12 months.
Source: Elon Musk/SpaceX/Twitter