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The latest launch of a SpaceX supply mission has shown that there are too many things that could go wrong, and even the smallest one can cause a major disaster. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket that was launched on the 28th of June has exploded just mere minutes after takeoff, burning to ashes along with its cargo of over 4,000 pounds of supplies on board. The supplies were meant to reach the International Space Station. Fortunately it was an unmanned mission, so nobody was harmed during the event. It has taken quite some time for SpaceX's engineers to find out what has caused the explosion, but the culprit was finally discovered: a metallic strut, two feet long and one inch wide. According to a conference call with reporters, Elon Musk has revealed that the faulty part, which should have withstood 10,000 pounds of force, has failed at 2,000 during takeoff. The part was delivered by a yet unnamed supplier. Apparently it was not just a single piece of equipment to be blamed: according to SpaceX engineers, the whole batch they have checked has failed at 2,000 pounds, although they were supposedly designed to sustain much more.
“We have been able to replicate the failure by taking a huge sample, essentially thousands of these struts, and pulling them. We found a few that failed far below their certificated level. That’s what led us to think that there was one just far below its rated capability that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Musk told Discovery News. The billionaire has revealed that this is the first such issue over the 18 successful flights of the Falcon 9 rocket.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft breaks apart shortly after liftoff at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday, June 28, 2015. The rocket was carrying supplies to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
After this incident the Falcon 9 rocket will return to the drawing table for engineers to create a new strut design, Musk told the press. The company will most likely choose a new supplier for the part, as well. Besides, the new struts will all be tested before being installed on the rocket to avoid such failures in the future. The Falcon 9 missions will be delayed until at least this September, and the issue will also delay the debut of the Falcon 9's big brother, Falcon Heavy.