The SpaceX rocket failure last June cost taxpayers $110 million, according to a NASA official in last Friday’s hearing.
The Falcon 9 rocket booster disintegrated more than two minutes after liftoff when a still undetermined cause led to the “over-pressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank.”
Two tons of food supply, equipment, and experiments were destroyed in the explosion.
Space X is currently leading the investigation to determine the cause and the sequence of events that led to their first rocket failure after making 18 other successful launches. The results of the investigation would be used to improve the system before starting manned rocket launches in 2017.
However, members of the House subcommittee on space questioned whether it was right for SpaceX to conduct the investigation on its own failure.
NASA associate administrator William Gerstenmaier clarified that SpaceX would not be alone in this venture. NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board would be joining the probe as well. Moreover, the government could also question the validity of the findings.
SpaceX is not the only private NASA contractor to experience a setback in their rocket launch.
Orbital Sciences is also leading its own investigation after the destruction of one of its rockets more than eight months ago.
Both space companies are hired by NASA as private contractors to deliver cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.
But despite the setback, Gerstenmaier expressed his relief that the loss only involved cargo.
“It’s excellent to learn on cargo. We definitely don’t want to learn on crew,” he said during the hearing.
Moreover, SpaceX has shown great promise after successfully launching 18 Falcon 9 rockets in recent memory. That track record alone is enough to guarantee that the taxpayer’s money is still entrusted in the right, able, and good willed hands.
You can watch a video footage of the rocket failure below: