SpaceX loses Falcon 9 rocket to explosion during test

Key Points

  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a 1 September engine firing
  • The company is scheduled to launch a USAF GPS 3 satellite with a Falcon 9 in 2018

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded during an engine firing test at Cape Canaveral, Florida on 1 September. The explosion resulted in the destruction of its payload, an Israeli Earth communications satellite built by Israel Aerospace Industries.

According to SpaceX, “At approximately 9:07 am EST, during a standard pre-launch static fire test for the AMOS-6 mission, there was an anomaly at SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 resulting in loss of the vehicle.” The company added in a press statement that the “anomaly” originated “around the upper stage oxygen tank and occurred during propellant loading of the vehicle.” All personnel were cleared off the launch pad, and the explosion resulted in no injuries, the company said.

SpaceX is investigating the incident. Its president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a 2 September press statement, “We deeply regret the loss of Amos-6. Our number one priority is to safely and reliably return to flight for our customers, and we will carefully investigate and address this issue. We are grateful for the continued support that our customers have expressed to us.”

The US Air Force (USAF) earlier this year awarded SpaceX a contract to launch a GPS 3 satellite with the Falcon 9 rocket in 2018. USAF Space and Missile Command (SMC) issued a statement late on 1 September stating that it is “poised and prepared to support SpaceX recovery and return to flight efforts.”

“While this was not a National Security Space launch mission, the US Air Force will continue working with SpaceX to ensure confidence in the safe and reliable launch of critical national security space satellites,” SMC said.

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from Department of Private Space Inc.