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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launch scheduled for January 14
Despite gaining the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s approval for resuming Falcon 9 flights, SpaceX has decided to wait for several more days before launching a Falcon 9 rocket carrying Iridium satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
In addition to gaining the federal regulator’s approval, SpaceX has also successfully completed an on-pad test. But, it decided until Jan. 14th to launch the Falcon 9 cargo flight. Before the new notice, the company was expected to launch the flight on coming Monday.
As weather-related postponements are typically announced more than 24 hours before a planned liftoff, there is possibility that SpaceX engineers might be battling other issues or technical troubles with the rocket. Scheduling conflicts with other activities at the Vandenberg Air Force Base may also have forced the company to delay the flight.
As per the National Weather Service (NWS), rainy conditions are expected for most of the week, with Saturday will likely be offering the best weather conditions for a flight launch.
The FAA issued license for SpaceX’s return-to-flight mission after accepting its findings from a four-month-long investigation into the September 1st Falcon 9 rocket explosion that had destroyed the rocket as well as a commercial satellite during a countdown test.
A report by Space Flight Insider informed, "SpaceX is hoping to return the Falcon 9 to service after an explosion during a static fire test on Sept. 1, 2016, at the NewSpace firm’s Cape Canaveral launch pad caused the destruction of the rocket and payload it was carrying. The company spent the better part of four months investigating what caused the accident."
In an update on the mission, SpaceX informed...
Over the past four months, officials at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), along with several industry experts, have collaborated with SpaceX on a rigorous investigation to determine the cause of the anomaly that occurred September 1 at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This investigation team was established according to SpaceX's accident investigation plan as approved by the FAA. As the primary federal licensing body, the FAA provided oversight and coordination for the investigation.
The accident investigation team worked systematically through an extensive fault tree analysis and concluded that one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the second stage liquid oxygen (LOX) tank failed. Specifically, the investigation team concluded the failure was likely due to the accumulation of oxygen between the COPV liner and overwrap in a void or a buckle in the liner, leading to ignition and the subsequent failure of the COPV.
Each stage of Falcon 9 uses COPVs to store cold helium which is used to maintain tank pressure, and each COPV consists of an aluminum inner liner with a carbon overwrap. The recovered COPVs showed buckles in their liners. Although buckles were not shown to burst a COPV on their own, investigators concluded that super chilled LOX can pool in these buckles under the overwrap. When pressurized, oxygen pooled in this buckle can become trapped; in turn, breaking fibers or friction can ignite the oxygen in the overwrap, causing the COPV to fail. 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.