SpaceX, NASA confident in Falcon 9 rocket engines

December 25, 2016 – 03:54 pm

Exquisite analysis and extensive testing by SpaceX engineers, with support and advice from NASA experts, showed a dramatic engine failure on the company's last launch was caused by a material flaw in the engine's protective jacket, a SpaceX official said Thursday.

The Falcon 9 rocket rolled out of its hangar Thursday for Friday's scheduled launch. Credit: SpaceX
Managers are confident the same problem will not show up during Friday's launch of a Falcon 9 rocket, the first flight of the two-stage booster since the Oct. 7 launch which suffered the engine failure.

"There was a material flaw that went undetected in the jacket of the Merlin engine, resulting in a breach ... causing depressurization of the combustion chamber, then the flight computer recognized that depressurization and commanded shutdown, " said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, during a press conference Thursday.

Each of the nine Merlin 1C engines on the Falcon 9 first stage is shrouded in a kevlar jacket to prevent a problem with one engine affecting another in the rocket's "tic-tac-toe" first stage engine matrix.

The rocket continued flying normally after the engine failure and deployed its Dragon payload in the correct orbit, but an Orbcomm communications satellite, carried as a secondary payload, was not released in...


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