Why Elon Musk thinks the Falcon 9 rocket failure will benefit

April 9, 2012 – 12:40 pm

Falcon9eumetsatSpaceX suspects a faulty two-foot-long, one-inch-thick strut likely caused its Falcon 9 rocket to fail about two minutes after launch from Cape Canaveral on June 28. The rocket was carrying 4, 000 pounds of supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call Monday afternoon, SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said engineers have spent thousands of hours analyzing data from the rocket launch and narrowed down the most likely cause to a single steel strut that was securing a helium bottle in the liquid oxygen tank of the rocket's second stage.

He also suggested that a culture of complacency may have crept in at the company. SpaceX may have become too accustomed to successful launches after seven years, Musk said.Falcon 9 Thales But the accident may yield a more vigilant company culture that will improve the prevention of future incidents, he added, trying to put a positive spin on an accident that dented SpaceX’s reputation.

Though the flight seemed normal when it took off from the launch pad in good weather, it broke apart in midair shortly after takeoff, becoming the third time that an ISS cargo vehicle has failed to reach the space station since October 2014.

"It just goes to show that rockets are a fundamentally difficult thing, " Musk said. "Generally when there's a idiomatic expression for something there's a reason for it, " Musk said, referring to the saying, "space is hard."

The failure was puzzling, Musk said, because the strut in question was designed to handle far higher pressure loads than it was subjected to.

“It failed at five times below its nominal strength which is pretty crazy, ” Musk added.

High pressure bottles filled with helium are used to pressurize the second stage of the rocket, and to replace burned fuel with helium gas to structurally support the tanks. Steel struts secure those bottles to the second rocket stage.

Source: mashable.com

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