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The competition really heats up: The SpaceX investigation into the September 1 Falcon 9 launchpad explosion has apparently also included looking into the possibility that sabotage could have played a part.
As part of the investigation, SpaceX officials had come across something suspicious they wanted to check out, according to three industry officials with knowledge of the episode. SpaceX had still images from video that appeared to show an odd shadow, then a white spot on the roof of a nearby building belonging to ULA, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The SpaceX representative explained to the ULA officials on site that it was trying to run down all possible leads in what was a cordial, not accusatory, encounter, according to the industry sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
The building, which had been used to refurbish rocket motors known as the SMARF, is just more than a mile away from the launchpad and has a clear line of sight to it. A representative from ULA ultimately denied the SpaceX employee access to the roof and instead called Air Force investigators, who inspected the roof and didn’t find anything connecting it to the rocket explosion, the officials said.
To quote Sherlock Holmes, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In this case, it appears that they have eliminated this impossibility, though it is interesting that SpaceX felt compelled to consider it.