SpaceX hasn’t yet pinpointed the ultimate cause of its Falcon 9 explosion from September, but it’s far enough into the investigation that it’s ready to get back to business. The private spaceflight firm now says its inquiry is in an “advanced state,” and it’s confident enough that it plans to resume stage testing in Texas within the “coming days.” The company still hopes to resume flight by the end of the year.
As for the accident? SpaceX has narrowed down the likely cause to one of the composite overwrapped pressure vessels inside the liquid oxygen tank. Investigators can consistently reproduce a problem solely through the pressure and temperature conditions experienced while loading helium. Appropriately, SpaceX is improving its helium loading conditions so that it can “reliably” service Falcon 9 rockets going forward.
The updates are good news for SpaceX in more ways than one. It’s in a scramble to regain trust from partners worried that they’ll lose payloads in the future — they need to know that explosions like this are unlikely to happen again for a long, long while. SpaceX also needs to show that its long-term plans for manned flights and Mars colonization won’t face similar setbacks.
Via: Ars Technica