The explosion in Florida that destroyed an Israeli satellite in early September was caused by a breach in the helium system mounted on its carrier rocket, Israel Hayom learned Saturday.
The Amos-6 satellite, carrying state-of-the-art communications technology, was destroyed on Sept. 1 when an explosion engulfed the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket on which it was mounted during a routine static test at the Cape Canaveral Airbase.
The explosion occurred two days before the satellite was scheduled to be launched into orbit. Amos-6 had been slated to replace the aging Amos-2 communications satellite, launched into orbit in 2003.
A statement posted on SpaceX’s website over the weekend said the investigative team, comprising SpaceX, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the US Air Force and industry experts, was “scouring through approximately 3,000 channels of engineering data along with video, audio and imagery. … The majority of debris from the incident has been recovered, photographed, labeled and catalogued, and is now in a hangar for inspection and use during the investigation.
“At this stage of the investigation, preliminary review of the data and debris suggests that a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second-stage liquid oxygen tank took place.”
The company said the cause of the potential breach remains unknown, and that “all plausible causes are being tracked in an extensive fault tree and carefully investigated.”
By Israel Hayom Staff /JNS.org