On Thursday, September 1st, one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The incident occurred as SpaceX was preparing the vehicle for an upcoming launch, which would have sent the Israeli communications satellite Amos 6 into orbit. To see if the Falcon 9 was ready for the mission, the rocket was about to undergo a static fire test — in which the main engines are turned on while the vehicle is constrained. But as propellant was being loaded into the Falcon 9 for the test, an explosion occurred around the upper portion of the rocket. Follow along here for the latest news about the accident as SpaceX tries to figure out what went wrong.
Sep 23, 2016
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 explosion likely caused by breached helium system
SpaceX’s recent Falcon 9 explosion seems to have been caused by a breach in the "cryogenic helium system" of the vehicle's upper oxygen tank, according to an update from the company. However, SpaceX says the accident is not connected to last year's Falcon 9 explosion, when a rocket disintegrated en route to the International Space Station.Read Article >
On September 1st, one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets exploded on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida as the vehicle was being fueled in preparation for a static fire test. The test involves turning on the rocket's engines while the vehicle is constrained. The static fire was supposed to determine if the Falcon 9 was ready for its upcoming launch of the Israeli communications satellite, Amos-6, but both the rocket and the satellite were destroyed in the explosion before the test even occurred.
Sep 22, 2016
ULA alludes to SpaceX’s rocket explosion in competition for military contract
The United Launch Alliance is throwing shade at rival SpaceX in the wake of the company’s latest rocket failure, suggesting that ULA’s vehicles are more reliable for launching Air Force satellites. ULA is making its feelings known as it’s expected to compete with SpaceX for a contract to launch a military GPS satellite. (Those proposals were due on Monday.) ULA, which says it submitted a bid, is arguing that the military should choose the most reliable company to launch the satellite, not the one that offers the cheapest services.Read Article >
"As recent launch failures have shown, rockets are not commodities. They are high-risk systems and the consequences of failure are costly and far-reaching," a spokesperson for the United Launch Alliance said in a statement to The Verge. "Our unmatched record of 111 successful launches in a row, coupled with consistent on-schedule performance, has real and tangible value for the taxpayer and the warfighter. That value should be considered as a factor when evaluating launch service options."
Sep 13, 2016
SpaceX hopes to return to flight by November, company's president claims
SpaceX hopes to start launching its rockets again in November, a mere three months after the company’s Falcon 9 exploded on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. That’s according to SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell, who spoke today at Euroconsult's World Satellite Business Week — a conference in Paris.Read Article >
Shotwell noted that the first flight could launch from SpaceX’s launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, or it could take off from Cape Canaveral. However, it won’t be taking off from SpaceX’s pad at Launch Complex 40 — the site of the explosion. That pad will need extensive repairs and probably won’t be ready to support launches by November.
Sep 4, 2016
Spacecom is seeking $50 million or a free flight from SpaceX after Falcon 9 explosion
SpaceX may be on the hook to compensate Space Communication Ltd. for the satellite that was destroyed during the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket — either with a free trip or $50 million, according to Reuters.Read Article >
The construction, launch preparation and operation of the AMOS-6 satellite, which would have been used to "significantly expand the variety of communications services provided by Spacecom," reportedly cost the company more than $195 million. The officials from the company also noted that it could also collect upwards of $205 million from Israel Aircraft Industries, which built the satellite. SpaceX hasn’t said what kind of insurance it purchased for the rocket, or what that insurance might pay for, Reuters reported. SpaceX wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Sep 3, 2016
SpaceX says it can continue launching Falcon 9 rockets from two other launch pads
The recent Falcon 9 rocket explosion badly damaged SpaceX's Florida launch pad at Cape Canaveral, meaning the company’s primary launch site is out of commission for the foreseeable future. But while that pad undergoes repairs, SpaceX says it can continue launching vehicles from its two other launch sites — one in California and another one in Cape Canaveral.Read Article >
That doesn’t mean the company will be getting back to its regular flight schedule just yet, though. SpaceX’s California launch pad can only be used for certain types of missions to space, and the second Florida pad isn’t quite ready to support launches just yet.
Sep 2, 2016
What’s next for Internet.org after yesterday’s SpaceX explosion?
Yesterday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral, destroying its entire payload. Part of that payload was a satellite that would have provided a crucial data link for Facebooks’ Internet.org project. Experts are still sorting through what caused the explosion and what it means for SpaceX, but it’s already clear the explosion will be a major setback for Internet.org’s ambitions in sub-saharan Africa.Read Article >
In the broad view, Internet.org aims to connect the world’s poorest people to the internet — but Facebook’s project has drawn some criticism for how it approaches that goal. The most controversial example is Free Basics, which offers a limited version of the internet for free by partnering with specific apps and services. That system was criticized by many as zero-rating — a violation of the principles of net neutrality — and was ultimately banned in India after intense lobbying from Facebook.
How the Falcon 9 explosion may change SpaceX's launch schedule
While it’s still too early to know all the consequences of this morning’s SpaceX explosion, one thing is almost certain: the company’s future launches are likely to be delayed.Read Article >
We don’t know what the root cause of the accident was, however, or how badly the rocket’s launch pad was damaged. Those are what will determine how long SpaceX is grounded from spaceflight — and whether the company’s business will suffer.
Sep 1, 2016
Video shows SpaceX's Falcon 9 exploding on the launch pad
Video has surfaced of the Falcon 9 rocket explosion that happened this morning at SpaceX's launch facility in Cape Canaveral. US Launch Report, a nonprofit video production company that brings military veterans to see space launches, published the video to its YouTube channel this afternoon.Read Article >
Not long before the video was published, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that the explosion originated around the oxygen tank of the rocket's upper stage. The cause is still unknown.
Mark Zuckerberg says he's 'deeply disappointed' in satellite explosion
Hours after the explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has released a statement on the loss of an onboard satellite contracted by Internet.org. The satellite, which Facebook launched in partnership with Eutelsat, would have brought wireless connectivity to large portions of sub-Saharan Africa, in partnership with local service providers.Read Article >
Zuckerberg's statement emphasizes other technologies developed by Internet.org, including the solar-powered Aquila drone, which completed its first test flight earlier this summer.
Today's SpaceX explosion is a major setback for Facebook's free internet ambitions
This morning, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on its launch pad, completely destroying the rocket and its payload two days before the scheduled launch. The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but anyone counting on this weekend’s launch to deliver equipment into orbit is now left scrambling for a replacement.Read Article >
That list of customers includes Facebook, which had contracted SpaceX to deliver the first Internet.org satellite into orbit. In partnership with the satellite firm Eutelsat, the new satellite (called AMOS-6) was set to deliver wireless connectivity to large portions of sub-Saharan Africa, a key element of Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to provide basic connectivity to the entire world. Experts valued the deal at $95 million, giving Facebook a split share of the satellite’s bandwidth for up to five years. Now, those plans will have to be put on hold.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 explodes on Florida launch pad during rocket test preparations
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, meant to launch a satellite this weekend, exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida around 9:07AM ET. The explosion occurred during the preparation for the static fire test of the rocket's engines, and no one was injured, according to SpaceX. The blast reportedly shook buildings "several miles away."Read Article >
The company confirmed to The Verge the loss of the Falcon 9 an hour later. Initially SpaceX said the explosion was caused by an "an anomaly on the pad," which resulted in the vehicle's loss. Later, the company clarified that the problem originated around the oxygen tank of the Falcon 9's upper stage — the top portion of the vehicle. Something happened while propellant was being loaded into the Falcon 9, but it's still unclear if the rocket is to blame or if it was a problem with the launch pad equipment.