Explosion at SpaceX SLC-40 Pad (Update)

Video by uslaunchreport.com

Marc's update: Friday evening SpaceX provided an update on the explosion at their Cape Canaveral SLC-40 launch pad. My interpretation of the statement leads me to think that as long as the investigation reveals no issues related to the Falcon 9 itself, that SpaceX intends on going forward with launches from their two other pads at Vandenberg Air Force Base and Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.

SpaceX Anomaly Statement September 2, 6:45pm EDT

"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."

NASA Statement on SpaceX Incident, NASA

"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."

Keith's update: Official Statement from SpaceX: "SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today's static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries."

Marc's note: The business repercussions for SpaceX and its clients are numerous, it's a cascading effect.

The Amos-6 launch was critical to Spacecom who had been acquired by Beijing Xinwei Technology Group and the sale was contingent on a successful Amos-6 launch. Iridium next-generation constellation has already been delayed and will be delayed further. Spaceflight's SHERPA with it's payload of 89 small satellites will be delayed yet again. ISS cargo resupply schedules will now have to be modified. The list goes on.

One of the questions that immediately comes to mind, was this a pad issue or a rocket issue? If it's not a rocket issue, that might ease people's mind somewhat. If it's a rocket issue, that would further complicate things. We won't get answers today, but for SpaceX and its customers, we can only hope the investigation reveals an issue that can be easily identified and corrected so they can return to flight soon.

Keith's update: If SpaceX stays grounded for a longer period i.e. months, it is likely that the first Falcon Heavy launch, mentioned as being planned for the end of 2016, will almost certainly slip into 2017. If that delay grows then there is a chance that the 2018 Dragon mission (on a Falcon Heavy) to Mars might be delayed to the next launch window in 2020. Then again SpaceX could find out what happened tomorrow afternoon and fix the problem.

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This page contains a single entry by Marc Boucher published on September 3, 2016 9:26 AM.

NASA OIG Report Predicts Commercial Crew Delay To Late 2018 was the previous entry in this blog.

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