An ongoing investigation into what happened that caused a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to explode while docked at the Cape Canaveral launch site at the beginning of the month may finally be turning up some useful results.
A team of highly-trained experts are looking into the cause, called The Accident Investigation Team (AIT). According to SpaceX, the AIT is made up of incredible people from SpaceX, the FAA, NASA, the U.S. Air Force, as well as various industry experts.
Although a high-definition video released on the internet revealed what looked like an attack on the rocket by something flying very quickly over the payload just as the explosion took place, SpaceX thinks it may actually have been related to a breach in the cryogenic helium system instead.
“At this stage of the investigation, preliminary review of the data and debris suggests that a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank took place, SpaceX said in a statement online. “All plausible causes are being tracked in an extensive fault tree and carefully investigated.”
At the time of the explosion, the rocket’s engines weren’t running and there was no apparent heat source, so it has been on the most confusing explosions CEO Elon Musk has had to try and explain in his 14 years with the team.
SpaceX’s launch pad was damaged during the explosion, which means SpaceX is probably grounded for several more months until it can be rebuilt to expected standards. Moreover, the $200m satellite that was attached to the rocket was also destroyed in the explosion.
Fortunately, lots of the launch pad remains in relatively good condition, so SpaceX hopes to be launching rockets again as early as November. Getting their systems back up and running is very important to the commercial space company since NASA will be relying on them, along with Boeing, to start ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Source: SpaceX via Business Insider