SpaceX Saved? Air Force Stands By Elon Musk, its Rocketman

June 16, 2017 – 07:48 am

File"On June 28, 2015, following a nominal liftoff, Falcon 9 experienced an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank approximately 139 seconds into flight, resulting in loss of mission."

- SpaceX statement

Final microseconds of NASA's Commercial Resupply mission CRS-7. Photo: NASA.

In less than a tenth of a second, the explosion vaporized 4, 000 pounds of supplies destined for ISS astronauts, along with a docking station that, if it had made it to ISS, would have facilitated docking by SpaceX and Boeing spaceships beginning in 2017.

NASA noted in an earlier report, however, that ISS had enough supplies on hand to maintain its crew through October, even before the Russian cavalry arrived. More supplies arrived with a Russian space cargo ship that reached ISS earlier this month, and perhaps even more on the Soyuz capsule that brought three new astronauts to ISS Thursday. And there's a second docking station in the U.S. that can still be shipped up. So for ISS, the situation is not critical.

Spacex DragonThe situation for SpaceX may not be as critical as it seemed back in June either.

One day, SpaceX's Dragon 2 space capsule could send NASA astronauts back into space. Assuming SpaceX's rockets stop blowing up, that is. Illustration: SpaceX.

Timing is everything
SpaceX'sCRS-7 disaster came at an especially inconvenient time for SpaceX, occurring just after the company had landed twin "certifications" from U.S. government agencies to operate highly complex space launches that SpaceX had previously been excluded from bidding upon. With the U.S. government planning to spend nearly $25 billion on space launches annually in the coming years, this is a huge opportunity for SpaceX.


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