An unmanned SpaceX rocket en route to the International Space Station (ISS) exploded just minutes after taking off. NASA said that nobody was onboard and no one was hurt, but described it as a “big loss.” SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was carrying Dragon capsule full of supplies and equipment to astronauts on the space station.
Astronauts aboard the ISS have sufficient supplies
A video showed the explosion, in which pieces of the rocket and capsule could be seen falling into the Atlantic Ocean. NASA administrator Charles Bolden told media that astronauts aboard the ISS had sufficient supplies for the next several months. He said the U.S. space agency would work closely with SpaceX to understand and fix the problem.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in a tweet that Falcon 9 “experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown.” NASA said the in-flight explosion was a “blow to us” and that the failure should not “cross over” to manned missions. The next cargo mission is scheduled to take off from Russia on July 3rd, followed by another Russian flight on July 22. The next SpaceX flight is planned for September.
Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 28, 2015
Sunday’s mission was carrying over two tons of supplies, including 1,500 pounds of food and provisions for the crew onboard the ISS. The Dragon capsule was also carrying science materials, computer resources, systems hardware, and spacewalking equipment. Also aboard the doomed spacecraft were a water filtration system and a docking adapter for the space station to prepare for the future commercial missions.
SpaceX investigating the crash
SpaceX chief operating officer Gwen Shotwell said the company was investigating into the crash. The investigation should take less than a year. William Gerstenmaier, a senior official at NASA, said that no negligence had occurred, and this ill-fated launch would help them understand the cause of the failure and come out better.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) described it as a “mishap.” SpaceX has launched seven missions to the ISS under a contract with NASA. The Dragon capsule was also supposed to bring back about 1,400 pounds of cargo in its return trip in about five weeks.