Space X's Accident Investigation Team is making progress with its examination of the September 1 incident that led to the explosion of Falcon 9 and its payload at the Launchpad Complex in Florida. The team may have found the cause of the explosion.
Space X said in a news update that they previously announced they're concentrating on a breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen. They have yet to narrow the root cause, but they are concentrating on one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the LOX tank.
The company adds that they're able to recreate a COPV failure entirely through helium loading conditions. Temperature and pressure of the helium being loaded affect these conditions.
With these new developments, Space X is now concentrating on finding the exact root cause of this anomaly. The company is also developing an improved helium loading conditions that would allow them to reliably load Falcon 9.
Space X will start testing rockets stages again at its McGregor facility. The company is hoping to return flight later this year.
Last month, Space X President Gwynne Shotwell the company was targeting a return-to-flight in November. The company still has an option of flying their rocket from two additional sites, one in Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and the one at Cape Canaveral that Space X leases from NASA.
Space X's Launchpad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida has been undergoing renovations following the explosion. It's supposed to be operational sometime next month.
However, The Verge reports that a lot of Space X's bigger projects are getting pushed back. These projects were supposed to take place this year.
Shotwell said that the Falcon Heavy, the super heavy-lift version of the Falcon 9, will have its first flight in the first quarter of 2017. The company also indicated that the first launch of its previously flown rockets will occur in early 2017.