How Will NASA Respond To SpaceX's Investigation On Falcon 9 Rocket Blast?By Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
NASA has already expressed its concern over SpaceX's fueling process. How will the space agency respond to the investigation conducted by Elon Musk and his company on the Falcon 9 rocket's explosion last Sep. 1?
It was previously reported that NASA is alarmed 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.
Earlier this month, NASA's advisory committee issued another warning to SpaceX. It was noted that Musk and Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, suspected the fueling process to be one of the main reasons of the blast. The explosion happened within 93 milliseconds in the preparation of the spacecraft.
Experts criticize the use of the same fueling process especially when it happens just 30 minutes before the launch. Around this time, the crew would already be required to be strapped to their seats.
Space News reported that one of NASA's advisory committees' criticisms of SpaceX's commercial crew mission plans have raised questions about the roles and responsibilities of said committees. The space agency released a letter submitted by Thomas Stafford last December.
Stafford is a former astronaut who is now the chairman of the International Space Station Advisory Committee. He addressed his letter to Bill Gerstenmaier, who is NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations.
Stafford expressed concern about SpaceX fueling plans. Specifically, he is worried about having astronauts on board its crewed Dragon spacecraft before the Falcon 9 rocket, which will launch it, gets fueled.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the committee's warnings could become complications to SpaceX's plans of bringing crews to and from the International Space Station. Questions on the safety of the fueling process would also become NASA's responsibility and on whether they will authorize practices that contradict longstanding safety protocols.
Elon Musk recently confirmed that the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blast was caused by supercooled oxygen. He added 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.