A day after Israel’s Amos-6 communications satellite was lost in a highly unusual explosion/fast fire of the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and its Amos 6 satellite payload at Cape Canaveral, some Israel aerospace industry experts are beginning to suspect sabotage. They are keeping their suspicions to themselves pending an investigation in which NASA ad the US Air Force will be taking part.
An explosion or fire occurring during a standard pre-launch static test prior to the engine igniting may be unique. These Israeli experts can’t recall any space satellite disasters happening at that particular stage.
Immediately after the event, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said an “anomaly happened around the upper-stage oxygen tank wile propellant was being loaded into the vehicle.”
Two days later, Saturday, Sept. 3, Musk attributed the loss to a “fast fire” rather than an explosion.
Representatives of Spacecom owned by Israeli Eurocom and Israeli Aerospace Industry, which manufactured Amos 6, their largest satellite to date, don’t expect to be invited to take part in the investigation.
Those circles resent Elon Musk’s reference to an “anomaly,” which they see as a euphemism to disguise the cause of the mishap.
American experts are speculating about a large, black. unidentified object picked up by video footage hovering in the sky at the moment the fireball rose over the Cape Canaveral launching pad.
Some are suggesting it was a large bird which happened to be flying past; others say the object is much too big and too fast for any known bird.
In Israel, some informed sources suggest that the reason for the Amos 6 satellites destruction is far from technical and may never come to light.
They cite the only previous SpaceX failure, which occurred in June, 2015, when a Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station exploded just a few minutes after launch. The company set up an inquiry team composed of 11 staff members and one FAA official, but never released details of its findings.
Three causes for the Amos 6 loss are postulated by Israeli sources:
1. The stiff competition among the companies of the eight nations that manufacture satellites. The last in the Amos series of communications satellites, produced at a cost of $200 million, was the most sophisticated produced so far. Some international competitor may have decided to push Israel out of the contest by destroying its newest product. This has indeed set Israel’s satellite industry back for years.
2. The other motive may be connected with the fact that Amos 6 was to have been Facebook’s first satellite. CEO Mark Zuckerberg had announced that Amos 6, scheduled for launch into geostationary orbit on Sept. 3, would have opened large parts of sub-Saharan Africa to direct internet.
Its loss has forced Zuckerberg to put his plan on hold.
This plan went well with the largely covert Israel drive in the last three years to expand its ties across the Africa. The Facebook project fitted in well this policy an added dimension and spurt.
3. Spacom had just signed a $285 sale contract with Beijing Xinwei Technology that was contingent on its successful launch into orbit of Amos 6 Saturday. One of Israel’s competitors may have been after the Chinese contract.