Elon Musk asks Twitter for help with 'complex' Falcon 9 explosion

Earlier this month, a Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX exploded on the launchpad, causing a blast that reportedly shook buildings several miles away. SpaceX is now scrambling to find out what went wrong, and this morning, CEO Elon Musk even tweeted a request for footage of the event from any witnesses.

Musk's tweets suggest that the exact details of what went wrong are unknown. "Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation," writes Musk. "Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years." SpaceX originally said the explosion had been caused by an "anomaly on the pad," and later clarified that the problem occurred during the loading of propellant onto the rocket.

Here's what Musk has said this morning:

You can listen out for the "quieter bang" (and the much larger one) in the video of the explosion below, but replying to fans on Twitter, Musk noted that SpaceX hadn't ruled out the possibility that something hit the rocket. Musk noted, though, that aliens weren't the cause.

Musk also tweeted that he would continue working on a blog post detailing updates to Tesla's Autopilot software tomorrow — a post he started writing and promised to publish soon before the explosion took place. This delay, though, will be the least of Musk's worries, as SpaceX's scheduled launches are put on hold as the investigation continues.

Tory Bruno, president and CEO of rival aerospace firm United Launch Alliance (ULA), told Reuters yesterday that it could take as long as a year for SpaceX to return to regular launches. "It typically takes nine to 12 months for people to return to flight," said Burno. "That's what the history is."

SpaceX made history with the Falcon 9 in April


I think the ‘quieter bang’ was a Galaxy Note 7 that someone threw at the rocket.

Perhaps one of the technicians had a head phone adapter fall out if his/hers pocket, causing a malfunction.

Somebody was trying to plug their lightning headphones into the universal USB-C port and threw them at the rocket in anger

I’m thinking it was an alien virus that Will Smith uploaded with his MacBook.

First of all Jeff Goldblum uploaded that virus, Will Smith just flew him within range.

Second maybe aliens finally saw that movie and decided to attack us the same way we attacked the aliens in that movie? Muahahahahaha.

Also – not a MacBook at the time. An Apple Macintosh Powerbook 5300.

Could this have been sabotaged by someone shooting at the rocket? Has something like that ever happened before?

There is a weird bird type thing that seems to hit it just before the explosion.

No, that’s not the case, watch the video here at .25 speed and you’ll see that the bird (or possibly bat) is just closer to the camera and happens to fly by at the precise moment of explosion. it crosses right in front of the explosion and exits the frame to left.

It doesn’t rule out something hitting the rocket, but it wasn’t that bird/bat.

I’ve listened to the video a few times and I can’t hear a ‘quieter bang’, only the loud one from the rocket explosion. Anyone have an exact timestamp on when it’s suppose to occur.

The one at 1:18

Thank you

The sound is out of sync for me. If I just play the video and don’t look at the video I hear a quieter bang, almost like pressure is expanding a metal container.

It’s not out of sync, it was filmed from 4.3km-ish away.

As @AluKed said it’s not out of sync. Sound travels slower than light. So you are seeing the explosion occur before you actually hear it due to the distance between the camera filming the footage and the rocket itself.

Musk is funny sometimes. First he refuses to call it an explosion, because explosions are bad, and now he insinuates sabotage to passively deflect responsibility from SpaceX.

That’s a pretty big leap. Mind pointing out exactly where Musk is " insinuating sabotage to passively deflect responsibility from SpaceX"?

He must be referring to this comment:

May come from rocket or something else

Which sounds to me like genuine confusion in the context of his other comments. But out of context, it does sound like he’s suggesting sabotage.

If he’s referring to the sound in the US Launch Report video he’s suggesting the sound could have been generated inside the junkyard type area the camera was set up in.

But he could also have sabotage on the mind too. More data from more locations would help profile the sound and could help locate its source.

Important to note that this happened during a routine filling operation. Engines were not on and there was no apparent heat source.

tinfoil hat on that’s because the ignition source was a sniper bullet shot by Russia’s space launch competitors who are seeing themselves being made irrelevant tinfoil hat off

Considering Russia’s recent actions I’m not convinced that is entirely tinfoil hat-level theory. Israel has a strong relationship with Russia – if they wanted to launch any more satellites this might make Russian boosters attractive.

And I was one of those that shouted down the sabotage angle at the start.

Sabotage ? Sniper ? laser ?

Exploding well camouflaged drone?

I fly r/c aircraft, and if painted well, they can be invisible to the naked eye even fairly close up from the ground depending on the sky at the time. (Hence one always paints them a contrasty colour!)

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