Falcon Heavy Booster Crash Caused by Lack of Ignition Fluid

Falcon 9 booster used on Falcon Heavy 1 photo
Photo: SpaceX
The now historic launch of the Falcon Heavy and its amazing cargo into space at the beginning of the month went almost without a glitch. Liftoff was perfect, and separation of all three boosters happened without a hitch. Two of the boosters landed in perfect and pure poetry on the launch pads at Cape Canaveral.
The third, however, was declared missing in action soon after reentry. It didn’t take SpaceX engineers long to figure out that something went wrong, despite the initial attempt to minimize the failure. It was later revealed that the third booster, which was to land on a sea-based drone ship, crashed.

The drone ship damaged by the booster was one of two available at the moment, the Of Course I Still Love You. Earlier this week Musk announced SpaceX is building a third one, to be named A Shortfall of Gravitas. The names of the drone ships are taken from the Culture series of novels written by Iain M. Banks.

Initial information suggested that only one of the three deceleration engines on the failing booster fired, causing it to crash into the sea at an estimated 300 mph. In a post on Twitter earlier this week, Elon Musk explained why that was the case.

“Not enough ignition fluid to light the outer two engines after several three engines relights. Fix is pretty obvious,” he wrote on the social network.

It is not clear why there wasn’t enough ignition fluid in the outer engines, given the fact that the rest of the mission was planned perfectly. Did someone forget to put some in? Did it escape due to damage? We’ll never know.

Regardless, the launch succeeded and now there is a Tesla Roadster in space that a few million years into the future may come slamming down back on Earth.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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