SpaceX barge damaged from fire after 1st stage landing


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The drone barge used by SpaceX to successfully land a 1st stage during its October 11 launch was subsequently damaged by a fire on board during the return to port.

The exact series of events is unclear, but it is understood the booster leaked some of its residue RP-1 fuel, which flowed along the deck of the ASDS and pooled near the containers at the aft of the drone ship.

The booster then continued post-landing operations, designed to safe the booster ahead of crews boarding the ship to complete the safing process ahead of the trip back to port. At some point shortly after landing there was an ignition of the pooled RP-1, likely via the purging of the Triethylaluminum-Triethylborane (TEA-TEB) that is used as the first stage ignitor. This has to be purged as part of the safing procedures for allowing crew near the rocket. Fire hoses – staged on the deck of the ship – quickly doused the fire. However, the garage containing the robot – nicknamed “Roomba” or “OctaGrabber” (among other names) – was caught in the fire and damaged.

This was confirmed by the lack of the robot in view under the rocket during the ASDS’ return to Port.

It appears they are repairing the damages and that future barge landings will not be affected.

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