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SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explosion caused by faulty strut

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Space is hard and currently no one knows that better than SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. During a call today about the Flacon 9 rocket mishap in June, Musk announced that a strut holding a high pressure helium bottle failed during the second stage of the launch. The gas from the bottle mixed with the liquid oxygen tank causing the failure. Musk said that the company will update the rocket's software to deploy parachutes in case of a failure like the one in June. The CEO said that the deployment of the parachutes could have saved the payload that was lost during the explosion. The Falcon 9 will return to flight in a few months but no sooner than September.

The failed rocket was carrying a Dragon capsule with research materials and provisions bound for the ISS. It was the third time since May that supplies meant for the space station were lost. Going forward, SpaceX will stress test individual struts. The strut that failed was about two feet long and one inch thick at its thickest point. The struts are supposed to handle 10,000 pounds of force, the strut that failed broke after only 2,000 pounds of force.

Another side effect of the Falcon 9 failure is that the first launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket has been pushed back to at least April 2016.

[Image credit: SpaceX/Flickr]

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