TIME space

Elon Musk Admits Being Stumped by Falcon 9 Fireball

"Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years."

Space X founder and chief executive Elon Musk says the investigation into the Falcon 9 rocket which exploded during a routine filling operation is the most complicated in the company’s history.

“Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation,” he tweeted early Friday. “Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years.”

He added that there was “no apparent heat source” and engineers were not present when the incident took place, before appealing to NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Air Force for support and advice. SpaceX’s official Twitter account asked those with audio, photos or videos of the explosion to get in touch.

The rocket, which exploded on September 1, destroyed a satellite Facebook was planning to use to offer Internet access in parts of Africa. “As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook hours after the incident.

The explosion marks a blemish on SpaceX’s record, which had been clean since another Falcon 9 was lost during a launch in June of last year.

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