As SpaceX Investigates Falcon 9 Failure, NASA Downplays Effect on Space Station

July 24, 2013 – 11:24 am

Elon Musk and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden inspect the Dragon capsule after it had returned from its first mission to the ISS in 2013. Credit: NASA, Bill IngallsWASHINGTON — While SpaceX struggles to determine the cause of a failure of its Falcon 9 rocket, NASA managers and other users of the International Space Station say the loss of the cargo on the Dragon spacecraft on that rocket should not have a major effect on station operations.

The Falcon 9 v1.1 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:21 a.m. Eastern time June 28, carrying a Dragon spacecraft with more than 2 tons of cargo for the ISS. SpaceX reported no technical issues during the countdown, and weather conditions were excellent at the time of liftoff.

The first evidence of a problem could be seen two minutes and 19 seconds after liftoff, as a white cloud expanded from the Falcon 9’s upper stage even as the rocket’s first stage engines continued to fire. The rocket was soon enveloped in the cloud and, within 10 seconds, broke apart.

More than a week later, the cause of the failure, the first in 19 Falcon 9 launches, continued to elude the company. The company has released few details about the investigation, but SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk said July 7 the failure did not appear to have a straightforward cause, and that the data the company had to analyze were difficult to interpret.

William Gerstenmaier. Credit: NASA, Jay Westcott“Whatever happened is clearly not a sort of simple, straightforward thing, ” he said in his most extensive public comments to date on the launch failure in an appearance at the ISS Research and Development Conference in Boston. “There’s still no clear theory that fits with all the data.”

Musk reiterated earlier statements that linked the failure to an “overpressure event” in the liquid oxygen tank in the upper stage of the Falcon 9. What caused that overpressure event, though, remains uncertain.

Musk said the company was working on a “super-detailed” timeline of the failure, accurate to millisecond, and left open the possibility that some of the data might be corrupted or otherwise in error. “We’re determining if some of the data is measurement error of some kind, or whether there’s actually a theory that matches” the data on hand, he said.

Because the launch was commercially licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, SpaceX is leading the investigation into failure, with participation from NASA, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “The interaction with NASA has been great so far, ” Musk said.

At a hearing of the House Science space subcommittee July 10, William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said that while SpaceX is leading the investigation, decisions


NASA Commercial Crew Human Spaceflight Program for Transport to the International Space Station (ISS): SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Contracts, Safety Reviews, History and Update Reports
eBooks (Progressive Management)

You might also like:

SpaceX Falcon 9 Failure Seen From within Mission Control
SpaceX Falcon 9 Failure Seen From within Mission Control ...
falcon 9 spacex failure rocket explosion june 28
falcon 9 spacex failure rocket explosion june 28
SpaceX Falcon 9 failure, CRS 7 crash FULL VIDEO!
SpaceX Falcon 9 failure, CRS 7 crash FULL VIDEO!
NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services: A New Era in Spaceflight - History of International Space Station (ISS) Cargo and Crew, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Bigelow
eBooks (Progressive Management)
ACESR Spacex Year Of The Dragon Mouse Pad / Mouse Mat / Mousepad / Mousemat
Office Product (ACESR)
  • Excellent tracking for all mice
  • Smooth Cloth Surface
  • Non-skid base securely holds the mouse pad in place
  • Create Personalized Photo Mouse Pads
  • Dye Sublimation imprinted
SamSingl Samsingl Women Spacex Dragon Capsule Flip-flop 5.5 B(m) Us Rubber Colorful
Sports (SamSingl)
  • Cozy, beach-ready
  • SamSingl
  • Cozy, beach-ready sandal
  • Women
ACESR iPhone 6 Plus Case, Spacex - Year Of The Dragon Iphone Customize Photo Case for iPhone 6 Plus 5.5inch with TPU Black Border
Wireless (ACESR)
  • Designed for the Lastest iPhone 6 Plus(5.5inch), NOT for Apple iPhone 6 (4.7inch)
  • Durable TPU Materia
  • Access to all ports, controls & sensors.
  • Create a custom case with your favorite photos and designs
  • Thermal transfer, Photo Printed in the plastic plate

Related posts:

  1. SpaceX Falcon 9 Capsule
  2. SpaceX Falcon 9 Failure Cause
  3. SpaceX Dragon Failure
  • avatar How can you clean and check auto choke on 3.9 falcon motor?
    • start car then spray carby cleaner around the top of the carby and down into the jets while holding the throttle to about 3000 rpm the revs will die a bit when u do this so keep holding the throttle open until revs pick back up if the choke is working properly it should be fully open at operating temp