Musk: Preliminary Conclusion Expected by End of Week

Musk: Preliminary Conclusion Expected by End of Week

SpaceX founder, CEO and lead designer Elon Musk said tonight that he expects preliminary conclusions about the cause of the June 28 Falcon 9 failure by the end of the week.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket failed 139 seconds into flight last Sunday, carrying a Dragon spacecraft full of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS).  It was the company’s seventh operational Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission under contract to NASA — SpaceX CRS-7 or SpX-7.  The first six, and an initial demonstration flight, were all successful.

Musk tweeted this evening that he expects preliminary conclusions by the end of the week.

The failure came after 18 consecutive Falcon 9 mission successes. 

That would be about two weeks to determine the cause and inform customers and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), which facilitates and regulates the commercial space launch industry.  Sunday’s launch was authorized pursuant to FAA’s regulations.  Under those provisions, the company leads the failure investigation with oversight by FAA. 

SpaceX has a long list of government and commercial customers who are awaiting word on the launch schedule impact of the failure.

SpaceX finally won certification from the Air Force in May to compete for national security launches after a lengthy process.  How this failure will affect its competitiveness with the United Launch Alliance (ULA), which has been the monopoly provider of those services since 2006, or SpaceX’s ongoing effort to develop a crew version of its Dragon capsule as part of NASA’s commercial crew program, is yet to be seen.  It may depend in large measure on how long it takes to rectify the problem and restore confidence in the Falcon 9 rocket.

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