- Parabolic Arc
- June 7, 2023
SpaceX: Anomaly Originated Around Upper Stage LOX Tank
September 2, 6:45pm EDT
SpaceX has begun the careful and deliberate process of understanding the causes and fixes for yesterday’s incident. We will continue to provide regular updates on our progress and findings, to the fullest extent we can share publicly.
We deeply regret the loss of AMOS-6, and safely and reliably returning to flight to meet the demands of our customers is our chief priority. SpaceX’s business is robust, with approximately 70 missions on our manifest worth over $10 billion. In the aftermath of yesterday’s events, we are grateful for the continued support and unwavering confidence that our commercial customers as well as NASA and the United States Air Force have placed in us.
Overview of the incident:
– Yesterday, at SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, an anomaly took place about eight minutes in advance of a scheduled test firing of a Falcon 9 rocket.
– The anomaly on the pad resulted in the loss of the vehicle.
– This was part of a standard pre-launch static fire to demonstrate the health of the vehicle prior to an eventual launch.
– At the time of the loss, the launch vehicle was vertical and in the process of being fueled for the test. At this time, the data indicates the anomaly originated around the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Per standard operating procedure, all personnel were clear of the pad. There were no injuries.
To identify the root cause of the anomaly, SpaceX began its investigation immediately after the loss, consistent with accident investigation plans prepared for such a contingency. These plans include the preservation of all possible evidence and the assembly of an Accident Investigation Team, with oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration and participation by NASA, the United States Air Force and other industry experts. We are currently in the early process of reviewing approximately 3000 channels of telemetry and video data covering a time period of just 35-55 milliseconds.
As for the Launch Pad itself, our teams are now investigating the status of SLC-40. The pad clearly incurred damage, but the scope has yet to be fully determined. We will share more data as it becomes available. SpaceX currently operates 3 launch pads – 2 in Florida and 1 in California at Vandenberg Air Force Base. SpaceX’s other launch sites were not affected by yesterday’s events. Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base is in the final stages of an operational upgrade and Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center remains on schedule to be operational in November. Both pads are capable of supporting Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches. We are confident the two launch pads can support our return to flight and fulfill our upcoming manifest needs.
Again, our number one priority is to safely and reliably return to flight for our customers, as well as to take all the necessary steps to ensure the highest possible levels of safety for future crewed missions with the Falcon 9. We will carefully and thoroughly investigate and address this issue.
Statement from SpaceX President and COO, Gwynne Shotwell
September 2, 9:00am EDT
“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.”
23 responses to “SpaceX: Anomaly Originated Around Upper Stage LOX Tank”
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“We are currently in the early process of reviewing approximately 3000 channels of telemetry and video data covering a time period of just 35-55 milliseconds.”
– Dang. Hopefully they didn’t need 3001 channels
Good to hear pad 39A should be capable of supporting launches in two months. Let’s keep our fingers crossed on the investigation and solution being relatively straightforward, though of course that might not at all be the case…
I have a definite feeling they will be transferring some of their current pad techs to 39A to hurry up any of the work they can. If this turns out to be a GSE/umbilical issue instead of a rocket issue we could see RTF as soon as 39A is ready
I might be in Florida for Falcon 9 RTF in time to buy HGM his brew this year with any luck.
I’ll be down here, I’ll be inside the center for this one.
Oh I almost forgot about your bet with HGM
Hate to say it but looks like Boeing is in the lead for Commercial Crew Capability. More milestones complete and Atlas V has 60 launches without failure. If SpaceX can’t get 15 or more successful launches in a row under its belt it will be relegated to cargo only
SpaceX is still far a head on CC milestones and actual hardware bent and tested. Thus far neither of the F9 “anomalies” would have resulted in LOC.
They definitely have to stop having their rockets blow up on them, however.
To quote Bumblebee Man, “Ay, ay ay! No es bueno!”
There isn’t a single rocket manufacturer or space agency that hasn’t had some type of setback during their development process. Only this week China lost a rocket during launch. Failure happens, but as long as lessons are learnt then SpaceX will most certainly emerge stronger.
A nice statement rather than a Tweet. I was hearing -3min and wondered why the srong back was vertical. She says -8min. So forget that. I hope there is not a 2nd stage re-design. I still say that they need a SRB as a backup. USAF is working on one. It could back up any of the other launchers. There was accusations in the House spending bill that USAF was suppose to only spend money on Engines not SRM. They may sue USAF I think, for spending money on Dark Knight. NASA should put some money into Dark Knight, since it might be used as a SLS SRB to get to 150mt. I would think the Reps. would like that, since they love SLS so much.
Using a large SRB as the 1st stage of an EELV class launch vehicle requires a new liquid upper stage that is more capable than the duo engine Centaur.
And where do you proposed to launched it from? Other than LC-39B at the Kennedy Space Center which only got one MLP & crawler active for the SLS.
Never mind the past bad history with large SRBs in the Titan III, Titan IV & STS.
This should motivate them to put a second pad and tower at Boca Chica sooner rather than someday.
Scott Manleys frame by frame description of the video….likely origin of blast…shows Dragon2 speed likely enough to keep crew safe.
Video frame rate 60 frames per second
Terrific. However, the launch abort system is like the life preserver under your airline seat. It’s something you never, ever want to use. It’s a last resort, we’re all going to die option if this doesn’t work in less than a second. The astronauts will be subjected to high G forces.
I merely posted it is because it appeared to be a good analysis of the explosion, as well as visually showed that dragon2 would likely survive.
The SRB comment sounded tongue in cheek
It’s not. He’s got a serious thing for SRBs.
“Enough with this anomaly horseshit!” 🙂
Mr. Berger suggested that SpaceX should cool it with there Mars plans so as not to Piss off some people.
Mr. Logston’s take below https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
“We didn’t stop going to the moon when we had early problems with Apollo”
Says it all to me?
I agree that SpaceX should refocus on its immediate core objective of establishing a consistent, reliable, reusable orbital transportation service. Once this is in place THEN Sx should look towards deeper space missions. I admire Musk and his vision of humans colonising Mars but I fear he’s displaying symptoms of “Branson Syndrome” (Over promise but under deliver).
I agree. Although I wouldn’t quite put Elon in the Branson category. Branson hasn’t delivered. On anything. In 12 years.
On the other hand, nobody’s paying Musk to go to Mars. People are paying him billions to launch satellites reliably and on time, resupply the space station, and develop a Crew Dragon system capable of launching our astronauts there.
He’s way behind on all the things people are paying him to do. The company has just destroyed its second rocket and payload in 14 months. It’s in the midst of yet another grounding where Dragon resupply missions won’t get flown for a while. The schedule for its huge launch manifest for government and commercial payloads is moving to the right again. And commercial crew keeps slipping.
That’s what Eric’s point is. Focus on the stuff people are paying you to do. Once you’ve mastered that, then move on to Mars missions.
SpaceX will bounce back stronger and wiser from this mishap. Learning from mistakes is a crucial part of being the best in any industry.