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SpaceX to return for the first time since explosion

03 January 2017

Over the past few months, collaborators with SpaceX have been rigorously investigating the cause of the anomaly that occurred on September 1 2016.

Thales Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

The official investigators included the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US Air Force (USAF), NASA, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and several industry experts. 

According to a statement on the SpaceX website, “investigators scoured more than 3,000 channels of video and telemetry data covering a very brief timeline of events – there were just 93 milliseconds from the first sign of anomalous data to the loss of the second stage, followed by loss of the vehicle. Because the failure occurred on the ground, investigators were also able to review umbilical data, ground-based video, and physical debris.”

Conclusions were drawn that the failure was likely due to the accumulation of oxygen between the composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) liner and overwrap in a void or a buckle in the liner, leading to ignition and the failure of the COPV. SpaceX will now implement design changes to the COPVs to prevent this from happening again and allow for faster loading operations. 

SpaceX has recently announced its target return to flight on January 8 2017 from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex. A Falcon 9 rocket will be launched to place 10 satellites into orbit for Iridium Communications. 

For more information, click here to read the full announcement. 

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