- Parabolic Arc
- November 29, 2023
Did One of Falcon 9’s Engines Explode? Video Shows Debris
This video shows something serious happening to one of the Falcon 9’s engines. Engine 1 seems to have suffered a “rapid unscheduled dis-assembly” — i.e., it blew up. The other 8 engines burned longer than planned to put Dragon into orbit. The anomaly occurred at 1 minute and 20 seconds into the flight.
I’m told that the engines have Kevlar around them to prevent the turbine blades, which are spinning at 30,000 RPM, from slicing into the other engines if they fail. That may have saved the flight. In this case, it looks like the entire engine blew up.
SpaceX Founder Elon Musk and President Gwynne Shotwell confirmed that an anomaly occurred and the engine was shut down early. But, they did not provide any details.
UPDATE: SpaceX has released the following statement:
“Falcon 9 detected an anomaly on one of the nine engines and shut it down. As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in realtime to reach the target orbit, which is why the burn times were a bit longer. Like Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, the Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine flameout and still complete its mission. I believe F9 is the only rocket flying today that, like a modern airliner, is capable of completing a flight successfully even after losing an engine. There was no effect on Dragon or the Space Station resupply mission.”