SpaceX plans to resume Falcon 9 launches on Jan. 8 after completing the investigation into the pad explosion that destroyed another Falcon 9 four months ago.
In a statement posted on the SpaceX website Jan. 2, the company said the explosion was caused by the failure of one of three helium tanks, known as composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs), inside the liquid oxygen tank in the rocket’s second stage. The company had previously indicated that a COPV failure was a leading cause of the accident.
Each COPV is made of an aluminum liner surrounded by a carbon composite overwrap. Other COPVs recovered from the Falcon 9 showed buckling of their liners, although what caused the buckling isn’t stated.