SpaceX finds cause of explosion that destroyed Israeli satellite

Launch pad accident that blew up $300 million communications device caused by breach in rocket’s helium system

The Amos-6, Israel’s largest ever satellite, and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on which it was perched go up in flames after the rocket exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida on September 1, 2016. (YouTube screen capture)

[Editor’s note: Back in September, when the Space-X rocket blew up on the pad in Florida, taking the Israeli satellite it was carrying with it, VT was immediately on the ball in reporting what had actually happened, thanks to the expertise we can call on. VT’s Jeff Smith correctly identified the explosion as a nuclear one, not least because of the plainly visible plasma ball.

A little research into the rocket design and it became clear that the helium contained in the rocket had exploded due to the Hohlraum effect that takes place when a container of helium, hydrogen or similar gas undergoes bombardment by radiation, in that case, most likely high intensity x-rays from a new x-ray laser just reaching deployment after having begun development in the 1980s as part of the infamous SDI ‘Star Wars’ programme.

Space-X have now completed their investigation and have revealed that it was indeed the helium tanks that went boom, providing confirmation that VT had been correct in it’s evaluation of the incident. As Jeff commented:

Well it was a helium tank rupture that did it so we were correct on that one; but liquid oxygen and helium don’t burn or turn into hot plasma by themselves. So they left out the ignition source data in the report. Interesting we got a 75% correct conformation.



Times of Israel

SpaceX finds cause of explosion that destroyed Israeli satellite

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company announced Monday that it had found the cause of a September launch pad explosion that destroyed a $300 million Israeli communications satellite.

The company’s Falcon rockets have been grounded since the September 1 explosion. SpaceX said in a statement that it expects to return to flight on January 8.

The statement posted on the SpaceX website on said the explosion was caused by the failure of one of three helium tanks, known as composite overwrapped pressure vessels or COPVs, inside the liquid oxygen tank in the rocket’s second stage. The loose liquid oxygen triggered a fuel explosion.

The investigation was overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Air Force, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was in the midst of a routine fueling test for its scheduled launch when it exploded. The explosion was felt throughout NASA’s Cape Canaveral, Florida facility and for several miles around.

The rocket was scheduled to hoist into orbit the Amos 6 satellite, built by Israel Aerospace Industries and owned by Spacecom Ltd. in partnership with Eutelsat Communications of France.

It was expected to operate for 16 years in part on behalf of Facebook and bring Internet connectivity to sub-Saharan Africa and television service to providers in Europe and the Middle East. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the project in June 2015.


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Posted by on January 4, 2017, With 6414 Reads Filed under Investigations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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9 Responses to "SpaceX finds cause of explosion that destroyed Israeli satellite"

  1. Harold Saive  January 4, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    UFO was Implicated in the destruction –

    • Dr. Abu-Bakr Susta  January 4, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Most if not all UFOs are man-made.

  2. Milo Edwards  January 4, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    When I first read the report from Musk, that was my first question, where’s the source of ignition?

  3. ManCavePatriot  January 4, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Aint it curious how every nations rockets are exploding?

  4. kaho  January 4, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Didn’t we reach the conclusion that x-ray lasers only work outside the atmosphere?
    X-rays are absorbed in the atmosphere.

    At the Lawrence Livermore Naional Laboratory the latest experiments use laser beams to induce nuclear reactions, not x-rays.

  5. ksp  January 4, 2017 at 10:35 am

    “the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Air Force, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board.’ They all have to be in on not saying what really happened.

  6. Richard Arlen  January 4, 2017 at 8:12 am

    the article says theyannounced the cause .no they didn t .jim says it was a possible xray star wars device.they only said what exploded duh!!!

  7. Caesar Lion Cachet  January 4, 2017 at 8:01 am


    So we still have to believe that the Israeli rocket was there for peaceful purposes ?!

    • Dr. Abu-Bakr Susta  January 4, 2017 at 5:49 pm

      CLC: No. ;-). However, not a part of the article or the Editor’s Note. If you have an assertion, please provide evidence or a source for your assertion.

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