The mystery of September’s Falcon 9 explosion may have been solved. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stated this during an appearance on CNBC today. Musk said that explosion that caused the rocket and payload to be destroyed was a “really surprising problem that’s never been encountered before in the history of rocketry.”
It was suspected by SpaceX that the problem that caused the explosion may be linked to one of three carbon fiber helium tanks that are inside the main fuel tank. “the liquid oxygen fuel froze solid as it was flowing into the rocket’s second stage, which set off the chain of explosions.”- the New York Times reports. Not much information was spilled by Musk during the interview but he offered a vague explanation and confirmed that the scientists were able to replicate helium tank situation that caused the explosion. “It basically involves a combination of liquid helium, advanced carbon fiber composites and solid oxygen,” Elon said. “Oxygen so cold that it actually enters solid phase.”
SpaceX competitor Orbital ATK already got the coveted the ISS supply. It was given to SpaceX but after the explosion, NASA changed their mind and gave to the competitor. SpaceX and CEO believe that they will able to get another Falcon 9 on the launchpad by the middle of December.