SpaceX today released its final investigation results on the September 1 Falcon 9 launchpad explosion, and announced that they have now scheduled their next launch for January 8 out of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
As expected, the cause is the accumulation of solid oxygen in the wrappings of the helium bottle tank (COPV) inside the oxygen tank of the first stage. The following is their announced solution:
The corrective actions address all credible causes and focus on changes which avoid the conditions that led to these credible causes. In the short term, this entails changing the COPV configuration to allow warmer temperature helium to be loaded, as well as returning helium loading operations to a prior flight proven configuration based on operations used in over 700 successful COPV loads. In the long term, SpaceX will implement design changes to the COPVs to prevent buckles altogether, which will allow for faster loading operations.
Their vagueness in describing the “prior flight proven configuration” is likely to protect proprietary information, but the overall solution suggests that their fuel loading operations will take longer.
The January 8 launch date was simultaneously announced on twitter.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
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