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SpaceX close to cause of explosion

Rocket company SpaceX says it is homing on the probable cause of the September 1st explosion which destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and its valuable satellite cargo.

At an October 9th speech at the National Academy of Engineering in Washington DC, SpaceX president and CEO Gwynne Shotwell told delegates that it seemed there was no flaw in the rocket’s design.

“We’re homing in on what happened,” she told the meeting. “I think it’s going to point not to a vehicle issue or an engineering design issue but more of a business process issue.”

She declined to elaborate but ‘business process’ could indicate a supplier’s problem, or one of assembly, and that there was little to worry about in the design of the rocket.

The absence of a design problem suggests that a resumption of launch activity could now kick in next month.  “Hopefully we’ll recover from this and be back flying a couple times this year,” she said.

Shotwell also elaborated on SpaceX’s plan for a super-constellation of satellites, saying that the company was considering building and launch some 4000 smallish Low Earth Orbiting satellites and that deployment could begin “late in this decade or early in the next”.

Referring to SpaceX ‘s founder, Elon Musk, she told delegates that “Elon tends to find an industry where customers are very angry and frustrated.  Let’s build little communications satellites and provide global broadband capability for reasonable prices.”

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