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NASA, Air Force & Others Weigh in on SpaceX Falcon 9 Accident

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
September 6, 2016
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Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit:

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit:


“We remain confident in our commercial partners and firmly stand behind the successful 21st century launch complex that NASA, other federal agencies, and U.S. commercial companies are building on Florida’s Space Coast. Today’s incident — while it was not a NASA launch — is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but our partners learn from each success and setback.

“The situation at the Cape is being evaluated, and it’s too early to know whether the incident will affect the schedule for upcoming NASA-related SpaceX launches to the International Space Station. If there are SpaceX mission delays, other cargo spacecraft will be able to meet the station’s cargo needs, and supplies and research investigations are at good levels.

“The launch for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission remains on track for Sept. 8. Initial assessments indicate the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and OSIRIS-REx spacecraft are healthy and secure in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41, which is 1.1 miles from SpaceX’s launch pad where the incident occurred.”

USAF_Space_Missile_Systems_CenterLt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves
Commander, USAF Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC)

“The U.S. Air Force is poised and prepared to support SpaceX recovery and return to flight efforts. While this was not a National Security Space launch mission, the U.S. Air Force will continue working with SpaceX to ensure confidence in the safe and reliable launch of critical National Security Space satellites. The U.S. Air Force will not speculate on the cause of the anomaly; however, SpaceX has invited the U.S. Air Force to observe and be a part of the anomaly investigation process.”

Commercial Spaceflight Federation

This morning, an anomaly occurred on SpaceX’s SLC-40 launch pad in preparation for a planned static fire test of the Falcon 9 that resulted in the loss of the launch vehicle and its payload, a communications satellite. SpaceX has reported that, per standard procedure, the pad was clear, and that there were no injuries.

“SpaceX is a global leader in the space industry. Lessons learned from today’s anomaly will help improve future operations and continue the expansion of access to space,” said Eric Stallmer, President of CSF. “We have full confidence that SpaceX will carefully investigate and remedy the anomaly, and safely return to launching as soon as possible.”

Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Frank DiBello
President, Space Florida

“Today’s anomaly at SpaceX was unfortunate, but yet another demonstration that spaceflight is a dangerous business.

Fortunately, because of the rigorous safety procedures in our industry no one was hurt, and we commend the Air Force safety office for their fast response.

We are confident that SpaceX will identify the problem, fix it, and get back in the business of flying.

No less encouraging was the quick statements of support from Congress for the commercial launch industry in the wake of this event.”

House Commercial on Science, Space and Technology

Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) released the following statement in response to Thursday’s news of an anomaly during a static fire test of SpaceX’s Flacon 9.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “As a nation, it is in our interest to see America’s commercial space industry lead the world in innovation and exploration. Today’s incident is a reminder that commercial spaceflight is a difficult business and that there will be challenges. Nonetheless, I believe the state of our commercial spaceflight industry is strong. Despite the difficulties, commercial spaceflight will carry on with American drive and ingenuity.”

Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas): “I am thankful that there was no loss of life and that no one suffered any injuries. While today’s incident is unfortunate for the commercial spaceflight industry, I have no doubt they will quickly recover and America will continue as the world’s space leader.”

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