Spaceflight Insider

NASA, US Air Force issue statements regarding SpaceX Falcon 9 accident

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Amos-6 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 Amos 6 Photo Credit: Carleton Bailie / SpaceFlight Insider

Black smoke billows from Space Launch Complex 40 in the minutes and hours after the Sept. 1 explosion that destroyed both the Falcon 9 rocket and Amos-6 satellite. The accident occurred during SpaceX’s customary static test fire. Photo Credit: Carleton Bailie / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Two of SpaceX’s primary customers issued statements shortly after the Hawthorne, California-based company’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded at 9:07 a.m. EDT (13:07 GMT). The resulting explosion caused the complete loss of both the rocket and the Amos-6 satellite it carried.

As the commanding officer at the Cape’s 45th Space Wing noted, those charged with managing the Eastern Range, of which Space Launch Complex 40 is an active and integral part, flew into action after today’s events.

“Days like today are difficult for many reasons,” said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, the 45th Space Wing’s commander. “There was the potential for things to be a lot worse; however, due to our processes and procedures no one was injured as a result of this incident. I am proud of our team and how we managed today’s response and our goal moving forward will be to assist and provide support wherever needed. Space is inherently dangerous and because of that, the Air Force is always ready.”

While this mission did not relate to the U.S. Space Agency, NASA also weighed in on how it viewed the disaster via a statement issued later in the day. The agency also addressed one of the initial concerns regarding the mishap, that it could cause a delay in the flight of the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS REx) mission to the asteroid Bennu.

“We remain confident in our commercial partners and firmly stand behind the successful 21st century launch complex that NASA, other federal agencies, and U.S. commercial companies are building on Florida’s Space Coast,” the statement reads. “Today’s incident – while it was not a NASA launch – is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but our partners learn from each success and setback.

“The situation at the Cape is being evaluated, and it’s too early to know whether the incident will affect the schedule for upcoming NASA-related SpaceX launches to the International Space Station. If there are SpaceX mission delays, other cargo spacecraft will be able to meet the station’s cargo needs, and supplies and research investigations are at good levels.

“The launch for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission remains on track for Sept. 8. Initial assessments indicate the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and OSIRIS-REx spacecraft are healthy and secure in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41, which is 1.1 miles from SpaceX’s launch pad where the incident occurred.”


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

I just can’t fathom why you would run the test with payload in the stack. I understand you want to cut time, but now you’ve failed a launch completely.

This way, fewer things can go wrong between the test and the flight.

It’s customer dependent to decide risk vs schedule. JCSAT-14 and Jason3 are two I know when through static fire this year without payload.

Between the time that the payload is attached and the vehcile launched several test are carried out. This is a normal procedure for most companies. the rockect exploded while being fueled. It is good this happened during the test. If the test had not been conducted then the rocket probably would ahve exploded on launch day when there would have been hundreds of people around the cape to watch the launch.

I must agree with Camren in the comments, why take a chance with the payload in the stack. Mount it after the static tests are completed. Now they’ve lost both the launch vehicle and the payload.

At this point, there is no way to determine the failure point (vehicle, payload, ground support equipment, human error, etc.), so we shouldn’t point fingers just yet, or question the methods or decisions used to get to this point. Right now, let’s focus on ground facilities damage assessment, telemetry analysis, and try to figure out what happened, where, and why.

Why is it when NASA or another company has an accident SpaceX fans gloat. But when the shoe is on the other foot its all “we shouldn’t place blame?” Don’t think so? Watch the video below. After 2 accidents in a little over a year SpaceX fanboys oughtta make a video called “SpaceX Gonna Blow You Up” They got one thing right, they certainly are “too hot!” LOL Before you complain you should probably note how Orbital is treated in the video below. Karma is harsh and pride goes before a fall…

Disasters like this make me really worry about SpaceX’s involvement in the Commercial Crew program. Right now their Falcon 9 has a 90% success rate, far below that of the Atlas V’s 100% and the Delta IV’s 97%. Even the Space Shuttle, which killed 14 astronauts, had a 98.5% success rate.

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