This Saturday at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, SpaceX will attempt to launch—and then land—a rocket. The launch comes just four months after the privately-owned space company’s Falcon 9 exploded on a Florida launchpad.
Needless to say, the stakes for tomorrow’s launch are high.
While the main focus of Saturday’s launch will be shuttling 10 satellites into orbit, SpaceX will be under more pressure than normal because of last September’s explosion. According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the explosion was the company’s “most difficult and complex failure.”
The good news is SpaceX engineers believe they know what caused September’s explosion. In a statement a few weeks ago, an investigation team said “one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the second stage liquid oxygen (LOX) tank failed.”
Specifically, the investigation team concluded the failure was likely due to the accumulation of oxygen between the COPV liner and overwrap in a void or a buckle in the liner, leading to ignition and the subsequent failure of the COPV.
SpaceX has a number of successful launches under its belt
Although SpaceX’s most recent launch was a failure, the company has a pretty good track record. Out of 28 launches over the past six years, only one has failed completely; the other 27 have been successful, and a few saw the company land its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating barge.
Hopefully, tomorrow will see SpaceX get back on track. You can watch the events unfold starting at 12:54 p.m. EST.