Sunday, June 28, 2015

SpaceX Dragon Lost Just Minutes After Launch to Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle making its seventh resupply mission to the International Space Station has been lost just minutes after launching from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket and vehicle have both been lost.

The Falcon 9 appeared to have exploded just after the separation of the rocket's first stage. All data with the vehicle was lost, two minutes and nineteen seconds into the flight.
The vehicle appeared to disintegrate just minutes into launch
credit: NASA TV
It is currently unclear what exactly caused today's failure. According the Pam Anderson of SpaceX there were no problems with the performance of the first stage of the Falcon 9, and telemetry with Dragon was received by teams on the ground shortly after the incident occurred.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Twitter; "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause."

ISS programme managers have assured the public that anomalies such as the one which happened today are planned for and as a result, it is estimated that the crew currently has enough supplies to last until late October.

Some of the cargo which was being flown aboard Dragon includes a number of student experiments, plant growth experiments, a space suit as well as provisions for the crew on board the station.

Another item also lost today was the International Docking Adapter-1(IDA-1) which was due to be installed on the Pressurised Mating Adapter located on the forward facing port of the Harmony. This would allow commercial crew vehicles built by Boeing and SpaceX to dock with the station thus allowing them to transport astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station. The first flight of Commercial Crew are slated to occur no later than 2017.

This is the third space station resupply ship that has been lost in the past eight months. Today's anomaly occurred exactly two months after a Russian Progress resupply ship spun out of control and burned up in the Earth's atmosphere several days later. An Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo craft exploded shortly after lift-off from the Wallops Flight Facility last October.

A Russian Progress resupply ship is scheduled to launch cargo to the station this coming Friday, July 3 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This will be followed in August by a Japanese HTV flight. Orbital ATK is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year.

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