Last month, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded about two minutes after launch. Now, CEO Elon Musk says a failed strut holding a helium bottle likely caused the explosion.
After breaking free, Musk says SpaceX believes the helium shot to the top of its tank at a high speed.
What we think might have happened is as the helium bottle broke free, and it twisted around, it may have pinched off the line to the helium manifold and restored pressure in the helium system, but released enough helium into the liquid oxygen tank to cause the liquid oxygen tank to fail.
The failed strut is about 24-inches long and an inch thick, and supplied to SpaceX via third-party company. The failure will cause SpaceX to source struts from a different company.
“This will result in some cost increase to the rocket, but not, we believe, of a significant amount,” said Musk. “And nothing that we would think should affect the actual price of the vehicle.”