KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – SpaceX and NASA are diligently working to “identify the root cause” of the June 28 in flight failure of the firms Falcon 9 rocket, as the accident investigation team focuses on “flight data” rather than recovered debris as the best avenue for determining exactly what went wrong, a SpaceX spokesperson told Universe Today.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 booster broke up just minutes after a picture perfect blastoff from a seaside Florida launch pad on a critical mission for NASA bound for the International Space Station (ISS). It was carrying a SpaceX Dragon cargo freighter loaded with research equipment and new hardware to enable crewed spaceships to dock at the orbiting outpost.
“The process for determining the root cause of Sunday’s mishap is complex, and there is no one theory yet that is consistent with the data, ” said SpaceX spokesman John Taylor.
The accident investigation is in full swing both at the Cape and SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Ca.
“Our engineering teams are heads down reviewing every available piece of flight data as we work through a thorough fault tree analysis in order to identify root cause.”
SpaceX is conducting an intense and thorough investigation with the active support of various government agencies including the FAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon were destroyed just over two minutes after a stunning liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in sunny Florida at 10:21 a.m. EDT.
The SpaceX CRS-7 cargo resupply mission to the ISS began flawlessly. The nine Merlin 1D engines powering the Falcon 9 rockets first stage were firing nominally at launch to produce about 1.3 million pounds of liftoff thrust for almost their entire duration.
However, approximately 139 seconds into the planned 159 second firing of the first stage engine, the majestic blastoff went awry as the upper stage of the vehicle experienced an as yet unexplained anomaly and suddenly exploded, vaporizing into a grayish cloud at supersonic speed and raining debris down into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Falcon 9 has transmitting data on over 3, 000 channels of flight data streams.
But something went wrong apparently with the upper stage said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
“There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause, ” tweeted Musk.
But why that happened and the vehicle disintegrated in mere seconds is still a mystery to be resolved through careful fault tree analysis of the data.
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