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SpaceX Completes Successful Rocket Launch

15 January, 2017, 00:42 | Author: Jan Cross
  • SpaceX Iridium-1 mission

The Falcon 9 safely returned to Earth by landing on the SpaceX owned drone ship/barge Just Read the Instructions.

SpaceX launched its first rocket into low earth orbit on Saturday since one of its rockets and cargo suffered from a fiery rocket explosion on its launchpad in September 2016.

The aerospace company SpaceX has kept its finances largely covered up from public view since the company's founding almost 15 years ago.

SpaceX and Boeing both won prime contracts in 2014 for NASA's Commercial Crew Program to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station with both companies scheduled to hold their first crewed test flights in 2018. Orbital ATK, for instance, spent two years updating the engines on its Antares rocket after a previous version of the vehicle exploded during take off in 2014.

The Falcon 9's record of two failures in 29 rockets stands in contrast to the record of its major US competitor, United Launch Alliance, which has launched 102 more expensive Atlas 5s and Delta 4s without a single failure. Inmarsat officials said it was more an issue of scheduling than any mistrust of SpaceX's reliability, though, and the company still has another launch order with SpaceX for the middle of this year.

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Tomorrow's launch is an opportunity for SpaceX to not only return to flight and restore confidence in the Falcon 9, but also carry out a complicated mission similar to what will be needed for its satellite-internet network.

An onboard camera captured the full descent of the rocket, which appeared to land right on the "X" in the center of the barge. The friction between the liquid oxygen and the broken container caused a spark, which blew up the Falcon 9 booster.

To try and put it simply, it looks like the inner aluminum liners of their pressurized liquid helium storage tanks developed some buckles in their surfaces. SpaceX was able to find some debris of the COPVs after the accident and found that the aluminum liner had buckled, or was scrunched up. In addition, investigators determined that the loading temperature of the helium was cold enough to create solid oxygen (SOX), which exacerbates the possibility of oxygen becoming trapped as well as the likelihood of friction ignition. Friction from the carbon overwrap, or even breaking carbon fibers, may have provided the spark needed to create the fireball. The FAA gave the license for the "Return to Flight" of the Falcon 9 mission on January 6. That's important given the company's busy year ahead. Also, it is claimed long line of customers are waiting for future launches.

The rocket - part of a private company space race spearheaded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, - will attempt to take 10 commercial satellites into space for the voice and data company Iridium.

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