The company announced their replacement, describing the cause of the complications.
The American company SpaceX Elona Muska has identified the cause failed launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, when the starting sequence was interrupted on October 2, just two seconds before the car took off from Cape Canaveral. It was to bring a new generation of GPS satellites into orbit.
Shortly after the crash, NASA postponed its astronauts’ scheduled flight to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 31. The office wanted to give the company time to properly investigate the situation.
Finally, SpaceX was able to identify the cause of the problem and find a solution. Over the past week, the company announced this in a conference call with reporters, the Ars Technica website informed. At the same time, NASA has set a new start date for the first abrupt mission of the manned Crew Dragon module, which is expected to take place on November 14.
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Minimal risk, but risk nonetheless
Even after the accident, the SpaceX manager explained that the automatic suspension of the starting sequence was due to an unexpected increase in pressure in the turbo pump’s gas generator.
SpaceX Vice President Hans Koenigsman said two of the nine Falcon 9 engines fired prematurely during the launch sequence.
Koenigsman assumes that if the sequence hadn’t been interrupted, nothing likely would have happened. However, the risk that, under certain conditions, there may still be serious damage to the engines, there is very little, so it’s best for the rocket to stay on the ramp.
The company then dismantled the pair of engines and sent them for testing at its complex in McGregor, Texas, where its anomaly was replicated. This has traditionally been a key milestone in trying to clarify the cause of any failure.
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“They found that the safety valve of the gas generator was clogged with a protective varnish similar to nail polish,” Ars Technica described the cause.
Merlin 1D engine on a test stand in Texas. The turbo pump is located on the right side next to the combustion chamber of the engine (small separate exhaust).
The company found its origin in the anodizing process of the aluminum components of a gas generator. In this case, some parts for which anodizing is not provided are covered with a special coating.
The red paint is then removed, but apparently this has not happened completely and small particles have lodged where they were not – in a joint with a diameter of 1.5mm and a depth of 12mm.
Elona Muska then inspected all of the new Merlin 1D engines. He discovered that two other engines of the Falcone 9, intended for the aforementioned astronaut flight on the ISS, suffered from the same problem. He then announced their exchange.
SpaceX has flown hundreds of flights before and has never encountered a similar problem. However, because he is now aware of the possible risk, he can pay more attention to a possible recurrence of the situation.
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“We can’t explain how everything worked for many years and we see it out of nowhere on the data,” Koenigsmann said. The anodizing process is not done directly by SpaceX, but by one of its suppliers.
They can’t wait for the ISS to arrive
The four-man crew of Crew-1, meanwhile, is fully prepared for flight, not just NASA astronauts.
The trio of Americans (Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker) will be joined aboard the Crew Dragon capsule by Soichi Noguchi of the Japanese Space Research Agency JAXA.
Let us remember that any problems with space flights, especially those with crew, should not be underestimated. How can that happen when crew safety is clearly not first, we are currently being reminded of a new Netflix document on the Challenger disaster (read our review).