Back in September, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded during the fueling process but SpaceX didn’t know the reason why.
However, the CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk revealed more news today on CNBC where he revealed that engineers at SpaceX have found the problem.
Musk said the explosion was caused by a really surprising problem that’s never been encountered before in the history of rocketry,” so that’s certainly reassuring to know. The New York Times reported the news further, stating that the issue was caused by the liquid oxygen fuel freezing solid as it flowed into the Falcon 9’s second stage, setting off a chain of explosions.
Musk didn’t reveal the full details about how the frozen oxygen may have affected the helium tanks, however, he did state the following about it:
“It basically involves a combination of liquid helium, advanced carbon fiber composites and solid oxygen, oxygen so cold that it actually enters solid phase.”
The New York Times stated that oxygen freezes at -362 degrees Fahrenheit and the Falcon 9 rockets use supercooled liquid oxygen at around -340 degrees, however, the helium inside of the carbon fibre tanks is even colder at -452 degrees, so that might have cause the liquid fuel to freeze.
SpaceX expects to relaunch once again later this year, and now that they know the problem, they can finally set out to finding a fix for it.
We will update you as more SpaceX news unfolds.