When one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets exploded on a launch pad just before a test on September 1, the spaceflight community collectively gasped.

Private spaceflight’s golden child had failed again, for the second time in about 15 months.

The September explosion destroyed the Israeli-built AMOS-6 satellite just before mission controllers started up the engines for a pad test ahead of the actual launch. Two weeks later, SpaceX is still hunting for the root cause of the accident.

The company founded by Elon Musk is far from the first private spaceflight outfit to lose a rocket and destroy a payload, but the company’s failures appear to be seen as different from the rest of the industry, at least by the public-at-large. Read more…

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SpaceX explosion is causing some to question Elon Musk’s ambitious plans