Was SpaceX Sabotaged? Explosion Might Have Been Caused by Rivals
Despite earning praises for its mission to Mars plan, including the Interplanetary transport system recently revealed by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the commercial spaceflight company is still being hunted by the explosion of its Falcon 9 rocket last Sept. 1 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Base launch pad in Florida. After weeks of investigations, rumors surfaced that SpaceX could have been sabotaged by a rival. Could this be true?
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, supposed to bring Facebook's Israel-made Internet satellite to space, exploded while being fueled three days before its launched. The explosion ruined the rocket as well as the satellite in an incident dubbed as the most difficult the company has faced.
A recent update of the investigations being conducted revealed that one of the potential causes is a breach in the helium system of the rocket. However, the latest update reveals another potential cause; rumors are spreading that the explosion was triggered by one of SpaceX's competitions and that lasers or drones caused the explosion.
The rumors started when reports of SpaceX officials asking for access to the rooftop of its fiercest rivals, United Launch Alliance (ULA) spread. SpaceX earlier asked the public for all video and audio recordings of the fireball to be used for the investigations because according to Musk, there was a loud bang heard before the explosion that couldn't have come from the rocket since all engines are still switched off during that time so there is no "apparent heat source."
SpaceX requested for access to ULA's rooftop due to one of the suspicious photographs showing unidentified and odd shadow with a white spot on the rooftop of ULA, Washington Post reported. ULA is a collaboration between Boeing and Lockheed Martin; both are also affiliates of NASA in commercial spaceflight developments.
But despite the intriguing twist, SpaceX representatives assured the public that the visit was "cordial" and not accusatory. Authorities visited the rooftop of a building used to store refurbished pacecraft motors. It is near the blast site but according to investigators, there is nothing that will link the roof or anything on it to the explosion in the nearby Cape Canaveral launch pad.
"Particularly trying to understand the quieter bang sound a few seconds before the fireball goes off," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a Tweet. "May come from rocket or something else," Musk added.
Investigations are still ongoing and SpaceX is hoping that no suspension will be ordered. Last month, reports say that incidents involving safety precautions could lead to suspension of space flight companies for up to one year. Meanwhile, SpaceX partners are hopeful that despite the blast and the complexities it entails, including the controversy concerning SpaceX rival's, will not prohibit the company to perform its obligations to its partners and of course, its recently debuted mission to Mars.