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Design error may have caused the explosion of the SpaceX rocket in 2015: NASA



A design error may have caused a SpaceX rocket to explode in the air in June 2015, according to a NASA report released on Monday.

The unmanned rocket was on its way to the International Space Station to deliver 4,000 pounds of supplies. It burst into flames above Cape Canaveral in Florida only 139 seconds after its launch, and SpaceX concluded that the explosion was probably due to a defective piece of steel called a prop.

"SpaceX chose to use a 17-4 PHS (precipitation hardening stainless steel) industrial grade (as opposed to aerospace grade) (the Rod End & # 39;) part in a trajectory. of critical load under cryogenic conditions and a strenuous flight environments, "NASA said in its report.

  PHOTO: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket breaks on June 28, 2015, after being launched from Complex 40 launch at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel / TNS through Getty Images [19659006] A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is broken, on June 28, 2015, after being launched from Complex 40 launch at the Air Force Station of Cape Canaveral in Florida.

NASA also concluded that the steel prop was implemented without sufficient evidence.

"The implementation was carried out without an adequate selection or testing of the industrial grade part, without taking into account the manufacturer's recommendations for a 4: 1 safety factor when using its industrial grade part in an application, and without proper modeling or adequate load testing of the part under anticipated flight conditions, "the report said.

  PHOTO: Space Xs Falcon 9 rocket as it rises from the 40th space launch complex at Cape Canaveral, Florida on June 28, 2015 with a Dragon CRS7 spacecraft. The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after takeoff. Bruce Weaver / AFP / Getty Images
Space X's Falcon 9 rocket as it rises from the 40th space launch complex at Cape Canaveral, Florida June 28, 2015 with a dragon spaceship CRS7. The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after takeoff.

The steel strut was manufactured to handle approximately 10,000 pounds of force, and it failed at only 2,000 pounds of force during the launch, said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after the explosion.

SpaceX said it no longer uses these props, but noted that the part had been certified "to withstand much beyond the expected loads."

The company also said that it audits the hardware in its vehicles to ensure that the parties comply with their certification.

  PHOTO: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its seventh official commercial refueling mission to the International Space Station in orbit is broken, on June 28, 2015, minutes after being launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel / TNS via Getty Images
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its seventh official commercial refueling mission to the International Space Station in orbit is broken, on June 28, 2015, minutes after being launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

A SpaceX spokesman responded to NASA's report in a statement, telling ABC News that "the independent review of NASA's Launch Services Program came to the same conclusion as SpaceX: that SpaceX corrected or mitigated all credible causes of the anomaly before the company flew back. "

"We appreciate the vision of NASA and the continuing partnership, and look forward to next month's launch of a flight-tested Dragon for the company's 14th refueling mission to the International Space Station (CRS-14), as well as the launch of the Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) for NASA, "said the spokesman.

SpaceX has completed 30 Falcon 9 missions, including six refueling missions to the International Space Station for NASA, since the June 2015 explosion. A SpaceX satellite codenamed Zuma plummeted in the Indian Ocean in January . The defense contractor who manufactured the satellite's cargo told ABC News at the time that the mission was classified and declined to comment on the loss of the satellite.


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