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SpaceX Explosion Blamed on Weak Strut Amid Staff Complacency

SpaceX Falcon-9 lifts off from the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 28, 2015 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX Falcon-9 lifts off from the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 28, 2015 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
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Elon Musk said an initial investigation into the failure of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket last month points to a two-foot-long, inch-thick strut in a liquid oxygen tank that snapped. Musk, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, also said that SpaceX has become “a little bit complacent” as it has grown in size, since the vast majority of current employees have only known successful launches.

“The part that failed was from a supplier. It was not made at SpaceX,” said Musk, who declined to name the supplier. “The strut failed five times below its normal strength, which is crazy.”