On January 8th, SpaceX is planning another launch, the first since its Falcon 9 rocket explosion in September. The company has stated that they have determined the cause of the explosion and are on track for a successful launch. SpaceX has detailed that the source of the Falcon 9 rocket failure, in September, was a complex process characterized by broken carbon fibers that caused the combustion of the super cold oxygen.
Furthermore, the company says it has identified all of the “credible causes” that could have yielded such a result.
You may recall that the September 1, 2016 launch was intended to bring a $195 million payload—a commercial satellite—into space. The Falcon 9 exploded five minutes prior to the planned launch time, destroying the satellite as well as causing major damage to the launch complex 40 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Staton.
In a statement posted to its website, SpaceX explains: “Investigators scoured more than 3,000 channels of video and telemetry data covering a very brief timeline of events. Because the failure occurred on the ground, investigators were also able to review umbilical data, ground-based video, and physical debris. To validate investigation analysis and findings, SpaceX conducted a wide range of tests at its facilities in Hawthorne, California and McGregor, Texas.”
SpaceX is, for the most part, all mum about technical details and their official statement, made Monday, certainly holds true to their policies, providing only very general information on the process. Perhaps the only detail you can extract from the statement is that investigators “identified several credible causes for the COPV failure, all of which involve accumulation of super chilled LOX or SOX (solidified oxygen) in buckles under the overwrap [to conclude] that one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the second stage liquid oxygen (LOX) tank failed.”
They also included: “Specifically, the investigation team concluded the failure was likely due to the accumulation of oxygen between the COPV liner and overwrap in a void or a buckle in the liner.”
This was SpaceX’s first straight-out Falcon 9 failure in 19 total launches that date back all the way to the rocket’s very first flight, in June 2010.