Broken Strut Likely Cause Of SpaceX Rocket Explosion


The SpaceX rocket that exploded after launch on June 28 likely broke a strut, releasing a helium bottle in an oxygen tank that shot out the top, the company said this week. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the Dragon rocket didn’t have the software to deploy a parachute that could have saved it and the $110 million of NASA goods it carried, The Associated Press reported. That will change from now on: Each spacecraft will carry the means to deploy its chute in an emergency, Musk said. He would not specify when the company plans its next launch, indicating it could take a few months and the broken-strut theory continues to be studied. “We want to make sure that we’ve turned over every piece of data,” Musk said in the AP report.

The 2-foot struts have flown without issues, but inspections after the explosion found that they were weak. They’re engineered for 10,000 pounds of force during rocket launches, and at the time of the explosion, they would have borne about 2,000 pounds of force, according to the AP report. The strut’s attachment point was the likely point of failure, and they’ll be more closely checked before launches, Musk said, commenting that a strut breaking under those conditions is “pretty crazy.” The space station received supplies from a Russian spacecraft earlier this month.