SpaceX says ‘helium breach’ may have caused its Falcon 9 explosion

The Falcon rocket and a satellite were destroyed in the recent explosion, which occurred on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida during prelaunch testing. 

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2016, 01:15 AM IST
SpaceX says ‘helium breach’ may have caused its Falcon 9 explosion
Image courtesy: SpaceX

Cape Canaveral (US): A breach in the rocket's helium system may have caused the devastating explosion of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on September 1, according to an update from the company.

 

The Falcon rocket and a satellite were destroyed in the recent explosion, which occurred on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida during prelaunch testing.

SpaceX, however, says the accident is not connected to last year's Falcon 9 explosion, when a rocket disintegrated en route to the International Space Station (ISS).

In an update on Friday on its investigation into the recent loss, SpaceX says it's still poring through video, audio and data from the moment the first sign of a problem occurs, until the actual fireball. Most of the wreckage has been recovered and is being analyzed.

It says the timeline of the event is extremely short - from first signs of an anomaly to loss of data is about 93 milliseconds or less than 1/10th of a second.

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.

All plausible causes are being tracked in an extensive fault tree and carefully investigated.

The company said it hopes to resume launches as early as November.