SpaceX asks for public help in investigation

Elon Musk terms launch pad accident “most difficult and complex failure” in 14-year history

SpaceX is urging anyone with audio, photos or video of a recent accident to send the material to report for use in an investigation.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk is calling last week’s launch pad accident the “most difficult and complex failure” in the company’s 14-year history.

After a week of public silence, Mr. Musk said via Twitter that the company is still investigating the accident, its second in just 15 months.

A massive fireball erupted during a prelaunch test on September 1 at the company’s main launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Falcon rocket and a satellite were destroyed, and the pad was damaged. Ground crews were fuelling the Falcon for a brief test-firing of its engines, two days before its scheduled liftoff.

The blast rocked the launch pad which had been cleared of workers for the test-firing and shook buildings several miles away at NASA’s neighbouring Kennedy Space Center.

Explosion lasted minutes

The sound of explosions continued for several minutes and black smoke billowed into the morning sky.

Particularly puzzling, according to Musk, is “the quieter bang” heard a few seconds before what he is calling a fireball, not an explosion. He said the bang may have come from the rocket or something else.

“Important to note that this happened during a routine filling operation,” he said in a tweet. “Engines were not on and there was no apparent heat source.”

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