NASA, US Air Force issue statements regarding SpaceX Falcon 9 accident
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, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.