In late June, Kennedy Space Center had plans to send the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) in order to deliver supplies before landing off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.
Instead, the rocket exploded in mid-air just three minutes after its launch sequence. “It’s a huge blow to SpaceX,” said SpaceX founder and CEO, Elon Musk.
It’s a huge blow to SpaceX. We take these missions incredibly seriously.
First Coast News reports that Musk indicated that he was expectantly focused on a successful landing, as it was a chance for the company to reuse the rocket. If SpaceX could figure out how to land the expensive rocket and recycle it for future use, the cost of space travel would be significantly reduced.
After the rocket’s explosion, Musk tweeted that “an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank” was the cause of failure.
There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 28, 2015
In a Quora Question edition of Newsweek wherein astronaut John “Danny” Olivas answers the question: “What Happened to the CRS-7 SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch on June 28, 2015?” Olivas writes that the SpaceX President and COO, Gwynee Shotwell agreed with Musk’s assessment, but later added it was “too early to know the exact cause.”
Olivas points out that the SpaceX explosion is the third failed mission to the ISS; in May Russia’s Progress 59 cargo craft lost control and burned up in the Earth’s Atmosphere and last October, an Orbital Science Antares rocket failed after launch. In spite of these failures, the ISS supplies are not yet at risk for running out and Olivas is thankful “no lives were lost.”
We are all thankful no lives were lost and the ISS astronauts’ supplies have not reached dangerously low levels.
Olivas also points out that prior to the Falcon 9 explosion SpaceX completed six successful missions to deliver supplies to the ISS.
SpaceX says they are moving forward to build a better rocket and Musk remains hopeful for future launches, as he believes that they have “a good chance of landing on the ship.”
I do think in the future launches, we’ve got a good chance of landing on the ship.
What do you think caused the Falcon 9 to explode?