SpaceX plans to return to flights on Sunday

SpaceX plans to return to flights on Sunday

Ilon Musk is going to launch the first mission this year after a failure in Florida on September 1.

SpaceX finished investigating the causes of the Falcon 9 rocket explosion on the launch pad four months ago. And now they are ready to start work.

The company chose a short-term solution to correct the problem with super-cold liquid oxygen (LOX), which was stuck between the layers of the helium tank. Three helium tanks are located inside the oxygen tank to maintain pressure.

Probably the extreme cold caused one of the internal ones to burst, after which an explosion occurred when the rocket tested the engine at Cape Canaveral station. As a result of the accident, a rocket and an Israeli satellite were destroyed for $ 200 million, which should have been sent into orbit in two days.

The company's engineers began to develop a new helium tank. But at the same time, the company plans to change the refueling procedure and fill tanks with higher temperature helium to avoid "friction ignition". Helium canisters, known as composite pressure vessels - COPV, are composed of carbon-wrapped aluminum liners.

“Recovered COPV showed buckles. Although they did not prove that COPV could burst, the researchers concluded that super cooled LOXs can combine these buckles under a wrapper under increased pressure and oxygen trapped in the buckle is also trapped. In turn, friction can ignite the oxygen in the wrapper, as a result of which COPV will fail, ”SpaceX said in a statement.

The researchers also found that the helium loading temperature was cold enough to create solid oxygen. The company also noted that it exacerbates the possibility of oxygen falling into the trap, as well as the likelihood of ignition from friction.

The short-term solution to the problem is to change the COPV configuration so that warmer helium is loaded at a slower rate.

"In the long term, SpaceX will make constructive changes to the mechanism to prevent buckles, which will speed up the loading process," - said in a statement. The company has not abandoned its plans to develop missiles with the possibility of safe return, allowing reusable use.

They will test the new mechanism on Sunday at Vanderberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket is equipped with ten satellites for Iridium Communications.

Representatives did not say how much damage the accident brought to the launch site in Florida, or when they would be able to restore the launch process again.

At the same time, the company is completing the construction of a second site in Florida, located in NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and plans to begin flights in the first quarter of 2017.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees US commercial launches, reported that they have received the SpaceX accident report, and are currently reviewing it.

“The FAA has not yet issued a SpaceX license to launch in January,” the agency said.

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