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A Video Analysis of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Firexplanomaly

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Video Caption: A more detailed analysis of the spacex falcon 9 rocket explosion.

Several interesting details. Firstly the main explosion is actually from the fuel from the second stage and the liquid oxygen from the first stage.

In order to save weight on the rocket the second stage of the falcon 9 uses a common wall for the liquid oxygen and fuel tank (rp1). Any rupture in this tank wall would doom the rocket.

The quiet ‘pop’ may well be a failure of a helium tank. They are usually used to keep a pressure in the tanks while they are emptying due to the rocket burning the fuel. If one of these had ruptured while the oxygen tank was full, it could have overpressurized the tank causing it to also fail.

I Will Launch America: Mike Ravenscroft

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Mike Ravenscroft (Credit: NASA)

Mike Ravenscroft (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Every astronaut who flies into space should go with the confidence that every detail of their spacecraft, rocket and mission has been thought-through and evaluated carefully, engineer Michael Ravenscroft said. That’s one of the reasons that the Commercial Crew Program engineer takes so little for granted as the program steers itself and partners toward a new dawn of human spaceflight from American soil.

“It’s one of those things you always think about – you don’t want to put anybody at unnecessary risk,” Ravenscroft said.

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Elon Musk Ponders Renaming Mars Colonial Transporter as Crew Dragon Slips

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Elon Musk has began to tease a talk he is set to give on Sept. 27 in which he is to reveal his plans for sending people to Mars. Musk will deliver his talk, titled “Making Humans a Multi-planetary Species,” during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. According to the program

Elon Musk will discuss the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars. The technical presentation will focus on potential architectures for colonizing the Red Planet that industry, government and the scientific community can collaborate on in the years ahead.

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NASA Still Hasn’t Released Report on SpaceX’s Last Accident

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Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

SpaceX’s recent firexplanomaly on the launch pad that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and the Amos-6 reminded me that NASA has not yet released an accident report from the company’s previous catastrophic failure in June 2015. That in-flight accident launched a Dragon supply ship bound for the International Space Station into the Atlantic Ocean.

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SpaceX Pad Explosion Endangered NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft

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Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

“No sooner had we accomplished the securing of the pumps when I was approached by another one of our range users who explained they were losing pressure on the chillers at a neighboring launch complex. Without those chillers the spacecraft for the next launch would be lost. [Emphasis added] Needless to say at this point I had to reestablish our priorities and get a team working on a way to get our IRT into Space Launch Complex 41 to allow access for technicians to enter in order to make the necessary repairs.”

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx was sitting on top of an ULA Atlas V on Space Launch Complex 41. Read the full story below.

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SpaceX Launch Pad Explanomaly is a Real Head Scratcher

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Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

SpaceX and its founder, Elon Musk, are scratching their heads over how the company managed to destroy a Falcon 9 launch and the Amos-6 communications satellite during routine propellant loading last week.

And it’s little wonder. There’s not a lot of precedent for this type of accident. The last time a launch provider had a failure like this one was more than half a century ago when the industry was in its infancy.

Conspiracies Abound on Falcon 9 Fireplosion

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Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

By now, you’ve probably heard the conspiracy theories about the fire and explosion (fireplosion?) that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and destroyed the Amos-6 spacecraft.

Was the rocket taken out by a drone? An alien UFO? An U.S. government determined to keep Spacecom out of the hands of a Chinese conglomerate? A bird pooping on the equipment? Or all of the above?

While the investigation continues and the speculation rages over the cause, there’s been one possibility that has been ignored completely….

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NASA, Air Force & Others Weigh in on SpaceX Falcon 9 Accident

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Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

NASA

“We remain confident in our commercial partners and firmly stand behind the successful 21st century launch complex that NASA, other federal agencies, and U.S. commercial companies are building on Florida’s Space Coast. Today’s incident — while it was not a NASA launch — is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but our partners learn from each success and setback.

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Spacecom’s Stock Crashes 40+ Percent After Falcon 9 Accident

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Credit: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

Credit: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

Spacecom’s stock has crashed more than 40 percent after its Amos-6 communications satellite was destroyed in a SpaceX launch pad accident in Florida on Thursday.

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NASA Suffering Significant Delays in Evaluating Commercial Crew Hazard Reports

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Launch_America_Commercial_Crew
Excerpted from, “NASA’s Commercial Crew Program: Update on Development and Certification Efforts,” NASA Office of Inspector General, Report No. IG-16-028, September 1, 2016

Improvements Needed to Ensure Timely Reviews of Contractor Development Efforts

NASA is responsible for managing the certification process for the Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew transportation systems to ensure they meet Agency human rating requirements. Timely insight into the contractors’ activities is vital to ensure this process proceeds on schedule and within the agreed-upon budget. As part of the certification process and to provide insight into contractor efforts, Boeing and SpaceX conduct safety reviews and develop reports on potential hazards and the controls they have put in place to mitigate them (hazard reports) for NASA’s review.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon Challenges: Welds, Cracks & Water Seepage

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SpaceX Crew Dragon Weldment Structure (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX Crew Dragon Weldment Structure (Credit: SpaceX)

Excerpted from, “NASA’s Commercial Crew Program: Update on Development and Certification Efforts,” NASA Office of Inspector General, Report No. IG-16-028, September 1, 2016

SpaceX’s CCtCap contract initially included 18 milestones ranging from establishment of the original requirements baseline to final vehicle certification. During the first year of the contract, SpaceX and NASA agreed to separate SpaceX’s Propulsion Module Testing and Critical Design Review into multiple segments, which increased the total milestones to 21.20

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SpaceX Commercial Crew Milestone Status

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Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Information below excerpted from, “NASA’s Commercial Crew Program: Update on Development and Certification Efforts,” NASA Office of Inspector General, Report No. IG-16-028, September 1, 2016

SpaceX’s CCtCap contract initially included 18 milestones. During the first year of the contract, SpaceX and NASA agreed to separate SpaceX’s Propulsion Module Testing and Critical Design Review into multiple segments, which increased the total milestones to 21.

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SpaceX: Anomaly Originated Around Upper Stage LOX Tank

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Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

SpaceX Statement
September 2, 6:45pm EDT

SpaceX has begun the careful and deliberate process of understanding the causes and fixes for yesterday’s incident. We will continue to provide regular updates on our progress and findings, to the fullest extent we can share publicly.

We deeply regret the loss of AMOS-6, and safely and reliably returning to flight to meet the demands of our customers is our chief priority. SpaceX’s business is robust, with approximately 70 missions on our manifest worth over $10 billion. In the aftermath of yesterday’s events, we are grateful for the continued support and unwavering confidence that our commercial customers as well as NASA and the United States Air Force have placed in us.

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Congress’ Chronic Under Funding of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

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Launch_America_Commercial_Crew
Excerpted from, “NASA’s Commercial Crew Program: Update on Development and Certification Efforts,” NASA Office of Inspector General, Report No. IG-16-028, September 1, 2016

Past Funding Shortfalls Have Delayed NASA’s Commercial Crew Plans

As discussed in our previous report, for several years during its early development, the Commercial Crew Program received significantly less funding than requested.14 As shown in Table 2, to date the cumulative difference between the President’s budget requests for the Program and actual appropriations is approximately $1.1 billion. However, under the current CCtCap phase of the Program, Boeing and SpaceX are operating under firm-fixed price contracts, which provide a more stable cost estimate for the remaining work needed to certify the commercial crew vehicles. Further, in December 2015 – for the first time in 6 years – NASA received the full amount the President requested for the Program: $1.2 billion for FY 2016. Although not the only factor, the shortfall contributed to slippage in the Program’s schedule. NASA officials said while full funding in FY 2016 will help reduce risks related to budget uncertainty, it will do little to address technical Program risks.
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Falcon 9 Pad Failure Throws SpaceX Schedule into Doubt

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Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

The loss of a Falcon 9 rocket and its Amos 6 communications satellite payload in a launch pad accident on Friday morning throws the company’s ambitious launch schedule into confusion.

SpaceX has launched eight rockets successfully in 2016. The company had planned 10 more launches by the end of this year.  (See table below; information courtesy of Spaceflightnow.com). That plan was very ambitious, and it is unclear the company would have flown all these missions.

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