‘I don’t want to be the first one to be killed’: Elon Musk’s SpaceX founder tells ABC News about the deadly Falcon 9 explosion
Elon Musk has spoken publicly for the first time since a Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a test flight in December 2016, killing one and injuring hundreds.
The SpaceX CEO, who is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, was asked in a Twitter interview on Monday whether he is prepared to be “the first one” to die in a launch accident.
“I don and I don’t,” Musk said, “but I want to take this opportunity to say that if there’s a real risk of that, and it’s real, then we should definitely take every precaution to protect the people onboard the rocket and to avoid this happening again.”
Musk, who has previously said he will not attend the opening of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2018, told ABC News that the launch was “extremely difficult,” adding that he was “very worried about the safety of the astronauts” on the flight.
The Falcon 9 rockets first stage ignited in a fiery explosion, setting off a series of explosions on the pad that destroyed the booster’s first stage and the second stage, and forced the rocket into a safe orbit.
The explosion occurred during a Falcon Heavy rocket’s first test flight from Florida to Cape Canaveral, where it is parked.
The launch came amid concerns about a lack of safety and reliability of the Falcon 9, which SpaceX has repeatedly said is ready for launch.
Musk has said the rocket’s failure was the result of “technical failure” and “a software glitch,” and said the company is looking into whether the Falcon Heavy’s rocket boosters are vulnerable to failure.
But Musk’s comments on Monday were the first that he has publicly addressed the issue, which was first raised in January, during a panel at the International Astronautical Congress in Beijing.
“The thing I’ve learned from all this is that the risk is always greater than the reward,” Musk told ABC.
“I don of course have any knowledge of the cause of this accident, but I think we have to take it very seriously and make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
The launch, SpaceX’s first with a Falcon 10 rocket, occurred shortly after SpaceX unveiled a new design of its Falcon Heavy booster for its upcoming launch from Cape Canaveral in 2019.
The company has said that Falcon Heavy rockets can lift up to 1,200 pounds (700 kilograms) into low-Earth orbit.
The rocket’s rocket stage is designed to carry more than 400 metric tons (1,800 kilograms).
The Falcon Heavy is one of SpaceX’s most powerful rockets, capable of delivering payloads weighing more than 10,000 pounds (3,600 kilograms) to low-earth orbit.
In the interview, Musk said he did not have a definitive answer as to whether the rocket had been certified for flight.
He also said he does not believe that the Falcon 11 rocket was actually ready to be launched.
Musks comments were the most detailed response to the accident that he made since he spoke at the event in China in January.
He said he is not in any hurry to attend the event, which is expected to be held at the nearby Sohu Aerospace Base in south China.
“That will be a long time,” Musk added.
“We have to be very careful, we have got to be extremely careful, and we are going to do everything we possibly can to minimize risk.”
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