SpaceX Falcon 9 launch failure cost NASA $110 million

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The recent failure of SpaceX’s resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) atop a Falcon 9 rocket has cost US space agency NASA a whopping $110 million.

William Gerstenmaier, a NASA associate administrator, provided this information to members of the House Science, Space and Technology committee. “That’s gone,” said Gerstenmaier.

Committee members also questioned whether SpaceX should be investigating its own failure. To this Gerstenmaier replied that alongside SpaceX, NASA, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are also involved in the investigation. Further, the government has the final say in the investigation carried out by SpaceX and can even refute SpaceX findings.

Gerstenmaier also told the committee that as a results of two cargo-carrying rockets, the space agency is looking into whether private contractors would be required to take out insurance to cover losses now borne by taxpayers.

Paul Martin, NASA’s inspector general, was also present at the hearing and he added that his office was looking at whether NASA’s private contractors including SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Boeing should be leading investigations into their own accidents.

Back in October 2014, an Orbital ATK cargo ship exploded just seconds after liftoff and a similar corporate-led investigation is currently going on into the matter. The cargo ship was carrying tons of food and other supplies to the space station.

SpaceX still doesn’t know what caused the explosion

Elon Musk revealed a couple of days back that SpaceX is nowhere near finding the reason behind the explosion of its Falcon 9 rocket on June 28. Speaking at conference in Boston, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that the loss of Falcon 9 is a huge blow for SpaceX and that they take missions incredibly seriously.

Musk said at the conference that they are finding it quite difficult to interpret and whatever may have happened is not a simple straightforward thing to find out.

“We want to see if we can get to what the most likely root cause is, look at both what we think most likely happened, and then anything that’s a close call and try to address all of those things and maximize probability of success for future missions,” Musk said.

Hinting at the possibility of an overpressure event in the upper-stage liquid oxygen tank, the SpaceX CEO didn’t divulge more information about the accident, he did say that more information is expected soon – possibly by the end of the week.

Musk did say that they didn’t have any clear theory that fits all the data they have analysed so far.