2017 has already been a good year for SpaceX, with the space technology company successfully – and safely – landing a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday.
It was SpaceX’s first launch since a Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a routine engine test on 1 September last year.
SpaceX investigated and, earlier this month, reported the cause: a problem with one of three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the second stage liquid oxygen tank.
COPVs store cold helium that maintains tank pressure. In this case, the inner liners of the COPV “buckled”. Liquid oxygen pooled and became trapped in these deformed areas, then friction ignited it.
As a short-term solution, SpaceX will load warmer helium into the COPVs but in the long-term, they will be redesigned to prevent buckles forming altogether.
Watch the whole event, from lift-off to landing, in the clip above.
Vishnu Varma R Vejayan
Vishnu Varma R Vejayan is a physics student from Queen Mary University of London with an interest in scientific writing and research in physics. He interned at Cosmos in early 2017.
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