SpaceX update on launchpad explosion investigation

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On September 23, SpaceX released an update outlining the status of its investigation into the September 1 Falcon 9 launchpad explosion.

The report noted the following:

  • The data points to “a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank” as the source of the explosion, though what caused the breach remains as yet unknown.
  • The cause of this failure and the previous launch failure in June 2015 are not related.
  • The report summarized some of the launchpad damage, noting that while the pad itself needs extensive repairs,

    …the Falcon Support Building adjacent to the pad was unaffected, and per standard procedure was unoccupied at the time of the anomaly. The new liquid oxygen farm – e.g. the tanks and plumbing that hold our super-chilled liquid oxygen – was unaffected and remains in good working order. The RP-1 (kerosene) fuel farm was also largely unaffected. The pad’s control systems are also in relatively good condition.

  • The report also noted that, “pending the results of the investigation, we anticipate returning to flight as early as the November timeframe.”

While this report suggests they have made some progress, the fundamental cause of the explosion remains unknown.



  • t-dub

    [sarc/on] What? No UFOs, bugs, birds, or any other extraneous forces, except for fueling, contributed to the failure? I’m shocked, I say, shocked . . . [sarc/off]


  • Frank

    Without the root cause found, continued production and subsequent launches bring high risk. Engineering must find the problem to build confidence. It’s what engineering does.

  • Cotour


    If you review I never said that any anomaly that was observed caused the explosion.

    I just said that I found it interesting.

    (unless your really an alien / human hybrid trying to divert attention form your activities (?) Hmmmmmmmm)

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