Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 tries for a comeback launch later this week.
Since the September 2016 explosion of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, Elon Musk and team have learned what triggered the explosion during a pre-launch static firing of Falcon 9 engines in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
To put it simply, due to the lack of oxygen in space, a rocket needs to be able to bring its own supply of oxygen aboard. In order to have more room for fuel, oxygen gas is cooled until it is liquefied. SpaceX’s oxygen tanks are kept around -340 degrees Fahrenheit, and the oxygen loaded into Falcon 9 may have been too cold, meaning that it may have actually solidified. Elon Musk and team believe the solid oxygen may have ignited the helium containers stored inside the oxygen tanks to trigger an explosion. CEO Musk stated that the problem has “never been encountered before in the history of rocketry.” Thankfully, there were no casualties or injuries, and no threat to public safety at the time of the explosion.
Now, as Falcon 9 plans to launch again, weather conditions have pushed back the launch date until January 14, 2017. There will be “high winds and rain” at Vandenberg Air Force Base for the next few days, making it a wise decision to wait to protect the valuable Iridium Next Satellite the rocket will be carrying and to be sure to verify the helium loading changes in order to prevent another launch explosion. The Falcon 9 two-stage rocket is designed and manufactured to transport satellites and their Dragon spacecraft into orbit.
We wait in anticipation!