He also said that the company may have become complacent, with few employees still working at SpaceX that were around during the last failed launch attempt by the company.
"The strut holding down one of the helium bottles appears to have snapped, " said Musk during a conference call on July 20. "As a result, we've seen a lot of helium get into the upper stage oxygen tank, which caused an overpressure event quite quickly."
SpaceX had around 500 employees last time it experienced a failed launch, and now has more than 4, 000. It hasn't made a serious launch mistake in over 20 launches. The last time SpaceX had a failed launch was seven years ago, not including a failed test launch in Texas last August. Because of its track record, analysts suggest that customers can continue using SpaceX with confidence.
Musk stressed that the findings related to the crash were preliminary and that SpaceX is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA to finalize the findings.
Musk also talked about the fact that the company is working to ensure that even if another rocket fails in the future, the cargo or the humans onboard the rocket will not be destroyed. Dragon, which is the capsule that the company uses in its rockets, will soon be equipped with software to ensure its safety.
The Dragon capsule itself reportedly was able to survive the second stage ignition, and continued communication with those on the ground until it finally went out of range. If the software onboard the spacecraft deployed the parachute, the capsule would have survived. Because of this, Musk says that future spacecraft will include contingency software, meaning that the Dragon capsule will be able to save itself in situations such as the failed launch.
While SpaceX builds most of its parts in-house, Musk continued on to say that the strut itself was built by a third-party, and would not name which company is responsible.
It's also important to note that the launch failure does not seem to have changed the company's plans to send a commercial crew to the International Space Station in 2017. There is also no word yet as to whether the Air Force will make SpaceX jump through more hoops before it begins allowing the company to launch U.S. military satellites into space.
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