In an unfortunate incident, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded last Sept. 1 destroying with it Facebook’s Amos-6 satellite designed to beam Internet in remote areas such as Africa. A few days after the “anomaly,” the public was given a glimpse of the explosion site in Cape Canaveral Air Force base in Florida.
Overview of the Incident
On Sept. 1, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was being fueled when the explosion occurred. CEO and founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, confirmed that the blast occurred during this time. However, the cause of the explosion is still unknown. “Loss of vehicle today during a propellant fill operation. Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause [is] still unknown,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a statement.
The explosion destroyed a Facebook Internet satellite scheduled for launch two days after the incident. Other spacecraft docked near the launch pad but were unharmed, including NASA’s recently launched asteroid-hunting spacecraft OSIRIS-REx.
First Look at the Explosion’s Remnants
A week after the explosion, photographs of the explosion site surfaced. Burnt launch pad systems and the remainder of the explosion can be seen from the images like the bent tower, obviously damaged by the blast.
The extent of the damage is obvious if the observation will be based on the burnt launch pad. However, the impact of the explosion transcends the physical damage. SpaceX is not the only company that suffered a great loss when the unfortunate incident occurred.
Facebook and the Israeli satellite company, who built the satellite for Facebook, both expressed disappointments towards the unfortunate event that destroyed their satellite. The consequences are higher for the Israeli satellite company, who needs to convince the government to fund another satellite project before another budget will be released. But the satellite company and other parties involved in Israel’s satellite systems are hopeful that they will be able to resurrect the industry after the loss of their satellite.
“There’s a synergy in the triangle between Space Com, its biggest client, and its supplier, in that they’re all Israeli companies,” Tal Inbar, head of space and UAV research center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, said in an interview. “They understand each other and would be responsive to each other, so that they could amend issues in the satellite, if need be, in no time.”
Cost of the Entire Damage Unknown
This only scratched the surface of the damages incurred during the explosion as SpaceX still haven’t released a statement about how much the total damage has cost the company. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg also did not discuss how much SpaceX owes him now that the launch of the Facebook satellite was delayed and their system destroyed.
This incident is the first for SpaceX, a company who successfully traveled to and from the ISS delivering cargo, crew and space equipment to the space station.
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