SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket testing explosion at Cape Canaveral destroyed AMOS-6 (Updated)

by | Sep 1, 2016 | International Space Station, Launches, NASA, SpaceX | 0 comments

A major explosion has taken place at SpaceX launch site at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 1 September. The explosion took place ahead of a prelaunch test of the full Falcon 9V1.2 FT-R rocket which was to launch the AMOS-6 communications satellite on 3 September. AMOS-6 was on the top of the launch vehicle and was destroyed in the explosion. The failure is likely to affect both the SpaceX schedule and the recently announced Chinese Beijing Xinwei Technology Group take-over of Spacecom which was apparently dependent on the safe delivery to orbit of the AMOS-6 spacecraft.

The cause of the explosion which apparently occurred during time of the tank refuelling process is being investigated. The initial ignition originated, according to Elon Musk, around upper stage oxygen tank.

The spacecraft was insured under a pre-launch “cargo” class policy for US$285 million (the manufacturer IAI was the insured). While substantial, the amount insured was reported to be considerably less than the US$330 million launch insurance taken out for the spacecraft by Spacecom itself which also included a measure of business interruption insurance. There has been surprise that the cargo risk underwriters were willing to underwrite the risk at relatively low premium rates which also included the AMOS-6 spacecraft being attached to the rocket during test firings – even if, in the event, the test firing had yet to take place.

Spacecom is expecting to receive US$50 million or a free relaunch from SpaceX and US$200 million or a new satellite from IAI.

AMOS-6 was planned to offer communications services to Europe and Africa. Under an agreement between, social media company, Facebook, Eutelsat and Spacecom, the spacecraft’s Ka-band payload was to have been dedicated under a multi-year deal, to providing free internet to Sub-Saharan Africa

Whatever the cause of the failure, the explosion also caused extensive damage to the Cape Canaveral launch pad 40 complex meaning that Dragon CRS cargo flights for NASA to the International Space Station and commercial satellite launches to geosynchronous transfer orbits for commercial operators are likely to be suspended until next year at the earliest, although theoretically the new ex-Space Shuttle pad at the adjacent Kennedy Space Center might be ready for Falcon 9 operations by November.

Flights to Sun-synchronous orbits and near polar orbits (such as those used by Iridium spacecraft) from the Vandenberg launch site in California will not be affected (the pad should be ready in November) – save for the delay caused by the failure investigation.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

SpaceX launches 59 satellites on its Transporter-5 flight of Falcon 9

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, USA at 1835 GMT on 25 May 2022. Read more

A busy May for Musk: mulling over buying Twitter, fighting a sexual impropriety allegation, as SpaceX sells stock for funding

It has been a busy month for SpaceX and Tesla supremo Elon Musk. The world's richest man grabbed headlines at Read more

SpaceX: Two rockets, two days and 106 new Starlink satellites

It was a busy weekend for SpaceX which launched two Falcon 9 rockets in less than 24 hours between 13 Read more

CACI to launch nav test payloads as part of demo to US military 

US defence contractor CACI International will launch two demonstration payloads on a York Space built satellite as part of an Read more

SpaceX launches Axiom AX-1 first all-commercial crew to ISS which returns to Earth late (Updated)

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 with the first privately crewed mission to the ISS from the Kennedy Space Centre, USA, Read more

Astranis buys a single dedicated Falcon 9 launch for four of its satellites

Techcrunch.com reports that spacecraft manufacturer and operator Astranis has agreed to purchase a single Falcon 9 launch to carry four Read more

NASA orders more ISS cargo flights from Northrop Grumman and SpaceX

NASA has upped the number of cargo missions as part of its CRS-2 contract originally signed in 2016, from 20 Read more

NASA outlines Artemis lunar landing plan with a second lander type for later missions (Updated)

NASA has outlined the Project Artemis plan to land humans back on the Moon. Having already selected SpaceX to supply Read more

Categories

Archives