The scheduled blastoff of a Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites for the Iridium communications network would come a little more than four months after another Falcon rocket exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral during fueling on Sept. 1.
SpaceX said its engineers determined that liquid oxygen had collected and solidified inside a covering over a helium tank, causing friction that ignited the oxygen and caused the explosion. The company said it has changed fueling procedures and plans to redesign the helium tanks on the Falcon 9 rockets.
“Investigators scoured more than 3,000 channels of video and telemetry data covering a very brief timeline of events – there were just 93 milliseconds from the first sign of anomalous data to the loss of the second stage, followed by loss of the vehicle,” SpaceX said in a statement.
The company has a backlog of more than 70 missions worth more than $10 billion.
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