Still no word on cause of SpaceX rocket explosion

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Elon Musk revealed on Twitter on July 5 they are expecting the preliminary conclusions of the cause of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket explosion to arrive by the weekend following which they will be briefing the FAA and key customers and after that the results will posted on the company’s website. However, there is no word from either SpaceX or its CEO about the possible cause.

“Expect to reach preliminary conclusions regarding last flight by end of week. Will brief key customers & FAA, then post on our website”, Musk had said at the time.

SpaceX was to resupply the ISS using its unmanned Dragon spacecraft aboard the Falcon 9 rocket in late June but things didn’t go as planned and the rocket exploded just over two minutes into the flight.

The company quickly sent out a press release stating that their preliminary analysis suggests the vehicle experienced an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank approximately 139 seconds into flight, but they also stated that a lot more investigation needs to be carried out before they can reveal preliminary findings about the accident.

SpaceX is carrying out the investigation with NASA and Air Force, while the FAA is overseeing the whole process. SpaceX said earlier that the Investigation teams are examining over 3,000 channels of telemetry data received from the vehicle, and engineers are parsing data with a hex editor to recover the final milliseconds of the flight.

“It’s a huge blow to SpaceX,” Musk had said while speaking at a webcast International Space Station research and development conference in Boston. “We take these missions incredibly seriously.”

Musk said at the conference that they are finding it quite difficult to interpret and whatever may have happened is not a simple straightforward thing to find out.

“We want to see if we can get to what the most likely root cause is, look at both what we think most likely happened, and then anything that’s a close call and try to address all of those things and maximize probability of success for future missions,” Musk said.

The loss of supplied cost NASA a whopping $110 million. William Gerstenmaier, a NASA associate administrator, provided this information to members of the House Science, Space and Technology committee. “That’s gone,” said Gerstenmaier.

Committee members questioned whether a company should be allowed to investigate its own failure to which Gerstenmaier replied that alongside SpaceX, NASA, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are also involved in the investigation and the government has the final say in the investigation carried out by SpaceX and can even refute SpaceX findings.

Gerstenmaier also told the committee that as a results of two cargo-carrying rockets, the space agency is looking into whether private contractors would be required to take out insurance to cover losses now borne by taxpayers.

Paul Martin, NASA’s inspector general, was also present at the hearing and he added that his office was looking at whether NASA’s private contractors including SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Boeing should be leading investigations into their own accidents.