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Space & Astronomy

SpaceX solves mystery of Falcon 9 explosion

November 5, 2016 | Comment icon 5 comments

The explosion was an unexpected setback for the company. Image Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann
The private space firm has finally figured out what caused its rocket to explode back in September.
SpaceX made headline news two months ago when one of its Falcon 9 rockets, which had been set to carry a commercial satellite in to orbit, spectacularly exploded on the launch pad.

The firm has since been carrying out an investigation in an effort to find out what happened.
Last week there were indications that the explosion may have had something to do with the rocket's three carbon fiber helium tanks. As it turns out, the liquid oxygen fuel actually froze solid as it was flowing in to the rocket's second stage, triggering a chain reaction of explosions.

During a recent interview, CEO Elon Musk described the issue as a "really surprising problem that's never been encountered before in the history of rocketry."

"[It] involves a combination of liquid helium, advanced carbon fiber composites and solid oxygen," he said. "Oxygen so cold that it actually enters solid phase."

Source: Engadget | Comments (5)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Princess Serenity 6 years ago
Comment icon #2 Posted by CryptoAce 6 years ago
That's interesting. I truly hope no one was hurt. TRAIL & ERROR. I may have never before happened in the field of rocketry but you live & you learn folks. ?
Comment icon #3 Posted by tantalusw 6 years ago
When this tragic accident first happened, they were very interested in a smaller explosion that was heard right before the main explosion, now there is no mention of the initial explosion, did it somehow magically disappear?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Firstly it was described as a noise, not an explosion, so there is no "initial explosion" to "magically disappear". Secondly, since no fullreport on the incident has yet been released then there is no way you, I, or any other memberof the public can know whetherthat initial noise was discounted as being irrelevant or is part of the evidence that has lead SpaceX to determine the cause of the accident. Thirdly describing an accident in which there was no loss of life or injuries as "tragic" seemsjust a little over the top.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Merc14 6 years ago
Am I getting this right that they believe the proximity of the -452f liquid helium is lowering the -340f liquid oxygen to -362f and freezing it solid?

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