First Posted: Sep 12, 2016 04:10 AM EDT
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket exploded on Florida Launch Pad during a routine test. The explosion occurred during the preparation for the static fire test of the rocket’s engines, NASA told the Associated Press. Rocket image used for representation only.
(Photo : Roberto Gonzalez / Stringer / Getty Images)
SpaceX founder and chief Elon Musk has described last week’s explosion of his company’s Falcon 9 rocket as the “most difficult [and] complex failure” experienced in 14 years. Musk and his company are still unaware what caused the incident, but he hinted of a possible mechanical failure.
While on its launch pad, Falcon 9 exploded and was completely engulfed in flames. The blast also destroyed a communications satellite from Israel’s Space Communication, including an internet communications project by Facebook.
Musk took to Twitter and said his company has already started an investigation. SpaceX has also asked people to send videos, photos, or audios to firstname.lastname@example.org to help with its investigation. According to Reuters, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation office is overseeing the investigation.
The explosion happened during the routine test of Falcon 9’s first stage at Launch Complex 40 in Florida on September 1. It was being refueled but a massive fireball engulfed the rocket. Why Falcon 9 exploded still remains a mystery.
Musk has been trying to pinpoint the cause, though he said “there was no apparent heat source,” and the “engines were not on” during the test. He also added that investigators are still checking if the source of a “quieter bang” prior to the massive fireball came from the rocket itself or from something else.
The rocket was supposed to bring Spacecom’s $200-million satellite into orbit, which Facebook would use to improve internet access in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. According to the Verge, Spacecom had previously said it would seek a compensation amounting to $50 million or could ask for a free flight from SpaceX after the blast. SpaceX will have another flight later this month at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.