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SpaceX has been hard at work following the explosion of one of its rockets on the launchpad late last year. Now, the company has revealed the final cause of the explosion, as well as plans to launch on Sunday.
The final cause relates to “composite overwrapped pressure vessels” (COPVs) inside the second stage oxygen tank, falling in line with the preliminary findings. These vessels are used to store helium, the private space company noted.
“Specifically, the investigation team concluded the failure was likely due to the accumulation of oxygen between the COPV liner and overwrap in a void or a buckle in the liner, leading to ignition and the subsequent failure of the COPV,” SpaceX wrote in its latest update.
“The investigation team identified several credible causes for the COPV failure, all of which involve accumulation of super chilled LOX (liquid oxygen) or SOX (solid oxygen) in buckles under the overwrap.”
It looks like SpaceX will be resuming operations this month, following their high-profile launchpad explosion
The space company added that corrective measures include allowing warmer helium to be loaded, as well as moving back towards the older, more reliable method of loading helium.
“In the long term, SpaceX will implement design changes to the COPVs to prevent buckles altogether, which will allow for faster loading operations.”
The company is aiming for a return to flight on 8 January, launching the Iridium NEXT satellite.