Elon Musk Confirms Cause Of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Blast, Launches May Resume By DecemberBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that he and his team have finally figured out what caused the Falcon 9 rocket explosion last Sep. 1. He also announced that rocket launches may resume as early as next month.
It was previously reported that the investigation on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blast was recently focused on the cryogenic helium system inside the spacecraft's second stage liquid oxygen tank. It was noted that this was the fuel that would have been used to help the rocket's cargo, which is the Amos-6 communications satellite, to move from Low Earth Orbit into Geostationary Transfer Orbit.
NASA has expressed alarm over SpaceX's "unique and contrarian fueling process." It seems that the space agency is concerned with the process because it involves people on board the spacecraft.
NASA's advisory committee issued another warning to SpaceX. Apparently, Elon Musk and his team have not changed its fueling procedures after the Falcon 9 rocket explosion last September.
According to The New York Times, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has admitted that they have "gotten to the bottom of the problem." He described the problem as "really surprising" and "something "that's never been encountered before in the history of rocketry."
He also believes that this is the toughest puzzle that the company has ever solved. Musk confirmed last Friday that the problem was during fueling.
Pop Sci reported that the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is powered by combusting liquid kerosene with oxygen. However, since there is no oxygen in space, the spacecraft would need to bring its own supply.
In order to get as much fuel as possible, rockets often cool oxygen until it turns to liquid. Apparently, SpaceX decided to cool it even more which resulted to an increase in oxygen's density and an increase in how much fuel there is inside the rocket.
Musk confirmed that the oxygen was too cold, though, that it actually turned solid. It was noted that the liquid helium containers inside the oxygen tank may have been responsible for pushing the oxygen to combustion.