SpaceX Robotic Dragon Capsule which was headed for the orbiting lab by the two stage Falcon 9’s rocket was exploded at 10:21 a.m. EDT (1421 GMT) at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After two minutes of the flight something went wrong, and the rocket explodes apart. The flight was terminated because the rocket suffered an anomaly about 2.5 minutes after liftoff.
“There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter today, which is, incidentally, his 44th birthday. “That’s all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis.”
To fly at least 12 unmanned supply runs to the space station, SpaceX holds at least $1.6 billion NASA contract. The previous six flights had all been successful, and it was the seventh flight.
For transport of supplies and scientific experiments, Dragon was carrying more than 4,000 lbs. (1,814 kilograms) of food. To observe and study meteors into Earth’s atmosphere. High resolution cameras designed and installed, including scientific gear. And all the equipment that helped scientists to better understand which microbes are present inside the space station. And how these organisms change over time.
This accident follows the heels of other two cargo mission failures. Last time in October, Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket exploded shortly after the launch. Scuttling the company’s third robotic cargo mission. (Orbital ATK holds a $1.9 billion deal with NASA to make eight supply flights using Antares and its Cygnus spacecraft.)
In May, Soyuz Rocket the Russian unmanned Progress 59 vessel apparently facing a problem with its third stage of the rocket which launched it to space. It fells back to Earth without reaching space station.
Despite this recent run of setbacks, the International Space Station (ISS) remains well-provisioned into the fall, NASA officials said.
“We’re good to the October timeframe if no other vehicles show up,” NASA ISS program manager Mike Suffredini said during a prelaunch press conference Friday (June 26). “If Dragon had made it, the $100 billion orbiting complex would have been well-stocked through the end of the year.”
In a test of reusable-rocket technology, SpaceX had aimed to land Falcon 9’s first stage on an “autonomous spaceport drone ship”. In order to slash the cost of spaceflight, SpaceX is trying to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets.
“A jumbo jet costs about the same as one of our Falcon 9 rockets, but airlines don’t junk a plane after a one-way trip from LA to New York,” SpaceX representatives wrote Thursday (June 25) about the company’s reusable-rocket goals. “Yet when it comes to space travel, rockets fly only once — even though the rocket itself represents the majority of launch cost.”
The previous two Dragon launches, when SpaceX had tried the rocket landing, both times they nearly succeeded. The rocket stage hit the boat, but toppling over and exploding on the deck, because it came down too hard.