The explosion of a rocket on the launch pad a couple weeks ago may have much longer lasting effects for Elon Musk's company than most people realize.
It’s been a couple weeks since a huge explosion ripped through the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Amos-6 satellite it was carrying, a huge setback for the program. But the explosion may be more than a schedule setback and the loss of a $200 million Facebook satellite — it may have big ramifications for the future of Elon Musk’s company.
No one was hurt during the explosion, but SpaceX has struggled to understand what Musk has called a very difficult and complex failure. The investigation continues into the fireball, and no root cause has been discovered, a rather unnerving reality as SpaceX pushes to launch another rocket later this year.
SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell has said publicly that the company plans another flight in November. But with no root cause to determine what caused the last Falcon 9 rocket to explode on the launch pad, many experts question whether it is wise to push forward with another launch.
It’s big money for SpaceX, as it has 70 launches planned worth about $10 billion. Any slowdown in the schedule could cost the company considerably. But without an explanation for the failure, it may be necessary.
“SpaceX has begun the careful and deliberate process of understanding the causes and fixes for yesterday’s incident,” the company said in a statement earlier this month. “We will continue to provide regular updates on our progress and findings, to the fullest extent we can share publicly. We deeply regret the loss of AMOS-6, and safely and reliably returning to flight to meet the demands of our customers is our chief priority. SpaceX’s business is robust, with approximately 70 missions on our manifest worth over $10 billion. In the aftermath of yesterday’s events, we are grateful for the continued support and unwavering confidence that our commercial customers as well as NASA and the United States Air Force have placed in us.”