After an unfortunate accident involving an exploding rocket that shocked everyone, SpaceX called flights off for an undefined duration. However, SpaceX rockets appear to be gearing up to take flight once again. While the cause of the accident hasn’t yet been pinpointed, the company feels that it has gathered enough knowledge to proceed with its flights.
Apparently, SpaceX is in an advanced stage of testing its rockets and while it hasn’t yet arrived at the exact cause, it is very close to resuming flight capabilities.
According to a post by the company,
Since the incident, investigators from SpaceX, the FAA, NASA, the US Air Force and industry experts have been working methodically through an extensive fault tree to investigate all plausible causes. As part of this, we have conducted tests at our facility in McGregor, Texas, attempting to replicate as closely as possible the conditions that may have led to the mishap.
It was previously thought that the SpaceX rocket had most likely exploded due to a breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank. While the investigators are still continuing along the same line of investigation, the root cause of the breach has still not been confirmed as of now.
However, the company says that it is focusing a major portion of its attention upon the three composite pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the LOX tank. SpaceX is working upon recreating a COPV failure through helium loading conditions in its Texas based facilities. Testing here also involves changing the pressure and temperature at which the Helium gas is loaded into SpaceX rockets.
The company hopes to resume flight testing from its Texas station soon, and then move towards gaining full flight capabilities by the end of the year.
Pending the results of the investigation, we continue to work towards returning to flight before the end of the year. Our launch sites at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, remain on track to be operational in this timeframe.
SpaceX appears to be progressing with extreme caution, double and triple testing every step it takes. And you can not really blame it. The stakes are very high as SpaceX competes with the likes of Blue Origin and a handful of other private competitors, over the emerging business opportunities in space. And exploding rockets are really not the best recommendation. As such, SpaceX’s cautious approach towards taking flight again, is perhaps for the best.