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Jul 21 2015

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Elon Musk reveals the cause of CRS-7’s failure

Elon Musk: Failed Strut Caused SpaceX’s ISS Rocket Disaster.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO and lead designer, said a strut used to secure a helium bottle probably broke free and doomed the Falcon 9 and its space station cargo in last month’s rocket disaster. The helium then leaked into the oxygen tank (it sits inside that tank) and caused “an overpressure event,” Musk said. The Falcon 9 rocket broke apart in mid-flight during a June 28 launch from Cape Canaveral, destroying 2 tons of cargo meant for the International Space Station.

This makes some sense, as it looks like the rocket broke apart and did not actually explode. However, it sounds like they’re still in the “I think…” stage instead of the “I know…” stage, so in the end the cause of the failure may change.

Assuming that Musk is right, it’s difficult to say how much re-design has to go into the solution. He alludes to a higher production cost for the rocket, which leads me to believe that the re-design may be significant. Certainly more involved than just adding additional brackets or redesigning the current brackets.

Stay tuned…

Oh, and it looks like the CRS-7 failure pushes the test launch of Falcon Heavy to Spring 2016. That makes me sad :-(

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/07/21/elon-musk-reveals-the-cause-of-crs-7s-failure/

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