On Sunday, June 28, SpaceX lost its Falcon 9 rocket during its first phase of lift-off. There was a vehicle launch failure which caused the Falcon 9 to fall apart two minutes after its orbit. The lift-off took place at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Although it is still unclear what caused the explosion, scientists told sources it will be a while before they can figure out what went wrong, and it has caused bigger problems for SpaceX to work with NASA in the future.
According to SpaceX the Falcon 9 had an excellent take-off and all of the engines were working fine. The explosion has left researchers puzzled. A team of dispatchers has been put together by the space agency to study the incident. The team is using data the rocket was able to send back to base before it exploded.
All nine of the rocket engines located on the lower stage operated smoothly when it orbited into space, at a height of 27-miles. Officials said the liquid-filled oxygen tank had an excessive build-up of pressure on the sensors. Since it was located in the upper phase of the rocket it caused the rocket to explode. However, scientists are still unsure if that is the actual cause. The vehicle launch failure occurred over the Atlantic Ocean, and the Falcon 9 fell apart around 10:23 a.m. ET. The explosion is causing NASA officials to worry that another rocket will not meet the astronauts that are currently orbiting in space.
NASA’s orbit supplier U.S. Orbital Science Corp. is currently struggling to resume their flights, due to the company recovering from their own recent rocket failure which occurred recently. However, the astronauts which are currently in space only have enough supplies that will last them for another four months. Although other space agencies located in Japan and Russia have different replenishment flights scheduled for the rest of the year, scientists told sources the failure launched made it a bad day.
According to scientists, this was the first launch failure that has ever happened with the Falcon 9, and it was a constant booster which was held closely to the Space Exploration Technology Corp. The rocket was carrying 4,000 pounds of food, a spare spacesuit, water recycling equipment, two Hololenses, docking adapter for ISS capsules to dock with the station for commercial crews, along with 30 student projects. Although the equipment was lost in the Falcon 9 explosion, a backup of supplies were left on Earth.
If the take-off would have been successful on Sunday, SpaceX plan of another rocket mission was to deliver supplies and land on Earth again. Unfortunately, this mishap has put a burden on the space agency’s mission to take off later in the decade carrying astronauts in 2017 for NASA.
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president told a news company, “the explosion of Falcon 9 was not due to a first stage issue, and the company must fix the problem.” That is great news for the company according to researchers because of the complex rocket design located in the lower chamber.
William Gerstenmaier NASA’s top-man exploration official stated, “the astronauts are in good shape from a food and water perspective. NASA does not plan to dramatically change the resupply and manning plans because the crew is not in trouble.”
Unfortunately, the failure launch of the Falcon 9 is the least of SpaceX’s problems because industry officials will now begin to question whether or not the space agency is capable to meet contractual commitments with NASA. Officials will also question whether the agency is able to provide timely launches for its number of commercial customers.
Falcon 9 vehicle launch failure causing the rocket to fall apart forced SpaceX to prove themselves as an agency NASA can rely on. Researchers and scientists are still waiting to see what caused the explosion. Space X has recently asked NASA, Federal Aviation Administration, and the Air Force for help investigating the causes. However, Elon Musk disclosed information about the amount of time SpaceX rockets will remain on the ground. The failure now has NASA riding the backs of the Japanese who are scheduled to launch their HTV on H-IIB rocket August 16.
By Krystle Mitchell
BizJournals: Astrobotic in wait-and-see mode following Falcon 9 explosion
Chron: Here’s why the loss of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket is a big deal for NASA
Wall Street Journal: SpaceX’s Flacon 9 Rocket Breaks up After Florida Lift-off
Popular Mechanics: SpaceX’s Flacon 9 Rocket Breaks Up During Launch Vehicle Failure
Photo Courtesy of Bill Dickenson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License