SpaceX’s operation might be halted for at least a year after last week’s accident when one of its Falcon 9 rocket suddenly exploded during a fueling operation on a launchpad at Cape Canaveral.
The cause of the explosion is still unknown, as there has been much speculation about the multi-million loss and its consequences. No one was injured in the incident, but the rocket was damaged to an unrecoverable state. It also destroyed a $200-million Israeli satellite that was about to be launched by Facebook as part of its worldwide internet connectivity project.
CEO of United Launch Alliance (ULA), which is a competitor of SpaceX, Tory Bruno, told Reuters that such a large-scale incident typically takes nine to twelve months to return to flight, as per the history records. He also said that identifying the cause of the accident along with rectifying it is a challenge that demands a lot of time and resources.
This setback isn’t a first-time occurrence. SpaceX also saw inactivity of six months last year following the loss of a Falcon 9 rocket before the launch. Another private space company, VirginGalactic, also suffered a similar accident two years ago where a spaceplane crashed and killed one of its pilots.
After last week’s explosion, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Loss of Falcon vehicle today during the propellant fill operation. Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.”
But since then the Musk has remained uncharacteristically silent on his account, which has led to an increase in speculation and conspiracy theories around the failed launch.
The rocket was boarding Amos-6 satellite made by Spacecom, and it is being said that SpaceX will have to pay it $50 million for its loss. This loss will be an added one to the loss in reputation, as Spacecom said it’d want to see “several safe flights” by SpaceX before deciding to trust the company again.