Monday, September 5, 2016

Falcon Explodes on Pad; Satellite Destroyed

Explosion begins just below the payload section on the Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX suffered a dramatic setback Thursday September 1st when its Falcon 9 rocket exploded on pad SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral. The payload, a communications satellite for Israel designated AMOS-6, was vaporized in the blast.  The explosion occurred during a firing test, when an unexplained detonation occurred in the 2nd stage liquid-oxygen (LOX) tank. SpaceX engineers worked diligently to put out the fires and secure the facility. According to reports in, SpaceX claims the explosion happened while fuel was loading into the LOX 2nd stage tank, at about 7:07 am Mountain Time. This is the second lost mission for SpaceX in 2 years, and there are many questions being raised about what went wrong while investigators do their best to find out why this tragedy happened.

The AMOS-6 payload section before the LOX fuel loading. Credit: SpaceX.
AMOS-6 was a communications satellite built by the Israeli firm Israel Aerospace Industries. It was supposed to take the place of the worn-out AMOS-2 satellite, at an orbital height of 22,000 miles.

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