Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, has called the failure “the most difficult and complex” the company has ever had. About a week after the explosion, he pleaded with the public to turn in video or audio recordings of the blast and said that the company has not ruled out sabotage as a factor.
“Particularly trying to understand the quieter bang sound a few seconds before the fireball goes off,” he wrote on Twitter. “May come from rocket or something else.”
Since then, SpaceX, which is leading the investigation with help from the Air Force, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, said it is narrowing down on the cause of the explosion, focusing on a breach in a second-stage helium system.
At a conference in Mexico this week, Musk said that finding out what went wrong is the company’s “absolute top priority,” but he said what caused the explosion is still unknown.
“We’ve eliminated all of the obvious possibilities for what occurred there,” he said. “So what remains are the less probable answers.”
He didn’t say what those might be.
The Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, which is helping SpaceX with the investigation, declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.