Elon Musk and his company’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded after liftoff today just outside of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The epic and catastrophic failure happened within moments after the launch.
The SpaceX rocket was carrying the “Dragon capsule” on its seventh planned mission to the International Space Station. The pod had been loaded with supplies including Microsoft’s Hololens headgear and food-making kit.
Musk and SpaceX were hoping to bring Falcon 9 back to Earth in one piece. However, they lost contact with the rocket due an unknown “anomaly” and as a result the mission was unsuccessful.
NASA, which plans to hold a press conference later today to discuss its contingency plan in the aftermath of the rocket’s explosion, said it was unhappy that the CRS-7 mission had failed.
The US space agency’s administrator Charles Bolden added in a statement:
We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months. We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight.
The commercial cargo program was designed to accommodate loss of cargo vehicles. We will continue operation of the station in a safe and effective way as we continue to use it as our test bed for preparing for longer duration missions farther into the solar system.
Bolden said that SpaceX’s previous six cargo resupply missions had “demonstrated extraordinary capabilities”. “We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward,” he added. “This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our ambitious human spaceflight program.”
NASA released footage of the explosion via its Twitter account:
Elon Musk tweeted:
“There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause.”
There will be some restrained excitement across the rocket business market (and even in some divisions NASA) following the explosion, as SpaceX had been set to cause massive turmoil with its much-lower launch costs and apparently very solid reliability. But for now it looks like its time to get back to the drawing board.