SpaceX Explodes Right After Launch (VIDEO)

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Jun 302015
 

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After a U.S. resupply rocket detonated shortly after launch on Sunday, NASA has released this video below of the mishap on Twitter.

As SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (above) looks on as the mishap unfolds, officials however, are still unsure of what caused the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to explode. Photo Credit: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk 

Photo Credit: NASA

United States SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the unmanned Dragon cargo capsule on board launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 10:21am ET on Sunday, June 28, 2015. After liftoff, the launch vehicle failed. Sunday’s loss marks SpaceX’s first failed mission to resupply the orbiting International Space Station.

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Video Credit: NASA: SpaceX Hit By ‘Launch Vehicle Failure’. SpaceX rocket carrying unmanned Dragon capsule explodes after liftoff. This June 28, 2015 grab from NASA TV shows the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the unmanned Dragon cargo capsule on board, appearing to explode shortly after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. 

“We appear to have had a launch vehicle failure,” NASA spokesman George Diller observed. “The vehicle has broken up.”

“It was not clear how the disaster occurred or even when the rocket actually failed. Data stopped flowing from the rocket around 2 minutes and 19 seconds,” he said. No astronauts were on board.

Air Force officials said the rocket “experienced an anomaly (a deviation from nominal readings of what is standard, normal, or expected)” about 148 seconds into the spacecraft flight. Debris from the space vehicle breakup fell into the Atlantic Ocean without causing any damage or injury to persons on the ground, NBC Newsconfirms at the spacecraft site.

Photo Credit: Facebook, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

California-based SpaceX is today continuing its quest to determine exactly what happened, noting that “everything appeared to go well in flight until the Falcon 9 rocket went supersonic.” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, said that “perhaps an anomaly occurred before the first stage shutdown,” further stating on Twitter, “there was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause.”

Sunday’s SpaceX explosion was a huge setback for NASA, as the agency is hinged to its contracting of private industry to transport cargo — and eventually astronauts — to the orbiting International Space Station laboratory. The seven previous SpaceX supply runs have succeeded their specified missions without a glitch.

“Having three [failures] this close together is not what we hoped for,” said Mike Suffredini, NASA’s space station program manager.

“This was a blow to us. We lost a lot of research equipment on this flight,” NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, William H. Gerstenmaier, told a press debriefing. “The explosion is also a setback for SpaceX, the space technology company, owned by Elon Musk, which has been attempting to compete with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Investigations will now apparently keep other Falcon 9 rockets grounded for ‘a number of months’ “.

Photo Credit: SpaceX, NASA

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden spoke yesterday from Washington on the loss Sunday of the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services 7 (CRS-7) mission.

“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,” NASA Administrator Bolden, a former marine pilot, and one of the earliest former Space Shuttle black astronauts, said.

“A Progress vehicle is ready to launch July 3, followed in August by a Japanese HTV flight. Orbital ATK, our other commercial cargo partner, is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year,” Administrator Bolden added.

“SpaceX has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first six cargo resupply missions to the station, and we know they can replicate that success. We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward. 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,” he said.  

Photo Credit: SpaceX, NASA

Fox News reports: “This is the second failed station shipment in a row.” In April 2015, a Russian Orbital Sciences Corporation’s “Antares” rocket cargo “ship spun out of control and burned up upon re-entry, along with all its precious contents.” And last October 2014, another contractor’s supply ship – an Orbital Sciences-ATK “Antares” rocket – “was destroyed in a launch accident.”

The U.S. resupply spacecraft SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the unmanned Dragon cargo capsule on board had been carrying replacement food, clothes and science experiments for items destroyed in the April and October spacecraft accidents.

NASA’s space station program manager, Mike Suffredini, said “the outpost had enough supplies on board to make it to October or so,” according to Fox News and NBC News. Suffredini said “the station’s residents — Scott J. Kelly of NASA and two Russians, Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko — currently have enough food and other supplies to see them through October. If the stockpile dwindles to a 45-day supply, NASA and its partners would have to consider bringing the crew back to Earth.”

Photo Credit: SpaceX, NASA

As confirmed by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden’s statements on Sunday, the news networks adding: “Russia expects to take another crack at launching supplies on Friday, July 3 from Kazakhstan,” via Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.

In addition, “a robotic Japanese HTV transport ship is due to follow in August,” NBC News reports.

“There’s really no commonality across those three events,” NASA Associate Administrator William H. Gerstenmaier said at a Sunday press conference. “This is a very demanding environment.”

Photo Credit: SpaceX Launch Control Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. 

Three resupply cargo mishaps en route to the International Space Station since April 2014 has caused critics of NASA’s thrust into commercialization of space to now ask some tough questions.

“Several members of Congress have been extremely skeptical about NASA’s plans to outsource both commercial cargo flights and commercial crew flights rather than taking a more active role in its own launch capabilities. These incidents may bolster their strength in budget and other regulatory fights to come – especially now when appropriations budgets in both houses have slashed funding for commercial crew programs and NASA is fighting to restore that funding,” Forbes reports.

NASA Associate Administrator Gerstenmaier said “the mishap also emphasized the need for full financing of the Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules, which are to start taking astronauts to the space station in 2017,” according to the New York Times, confirming further: “The Obama administration requested $1.2 billion for the 2016 fiscal year for the program, known as commercial crew, but a budget bill passed by the House of Representatives included $1 billion, and a budget bill in the Senate would provide even less: $900 million.”

“If we don’t get the funding, we can’t do the technical work,” NASA Associate Administrator Gerstenmaier said. “The technical work gets delayed or compressed. And this environment is not conducive to letting us compress or delay technical work.”

Photo Credit: Thirteen Previous SpaceX Rocket Launches of Flights 1-13 (2010-2014) All Depicted At Once.

Flight 1: DSQU (June 4, 2010)

Flight 2: COTS1 (December 8, 2010)

Flight 3: COT2+ (May 22, 2012)

Flight 4: CRS-1 (October 8, 2012)

Flight 5: CRS-2 (March 1, 2013)

Flight 6: CASSIOPE (September 29, 2013)

Flight 7: SES-8 (December 3, 2013)

Flight 8: THIACOM6 (January 6, 2014)

Flight 9: CRS-3 (April 18, 2014)

Flight 10: OG2Flight1 (July 14, 2014)

Flight 11: ASIASAT8 (August 5, 2014)

Flight 12: ASIASAT6 (September 7, 2014)

Flight 13: CRS-4 (September 21, 2014)

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Photo Credit: California-based SpaceX Headquarters, Hawthorne, California

Appendix: NASA Contracting of the Privatization of Space

NASA awarded nearly US$6.8 billion in contracts to defense contractor Boeing and upstart SpaceX in a September 16, 2014 announcement the agency aimed to privatized space travel for humans, to carry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017, and to achieve NASA’s long-range goals to land humans on Mars by contracting out low-earth orbits.

Boeing has long built aircraft for the military and NASA, in addition to commercial airliners, but the Elon Musk-backed SpaceX has only recently begun transporting goods to the International Space Station.

NASA administrator Charlie Bolden, citing SpaceX contractors’ 2017 deadline for certification to NASA standards for low-earth orbit, called this move “the most ambitious and exciting chapter in the history of NASA and human space flight.”

“This wasn’t an easy choice, but it’s the best choice for NASA and the nation,” he added.

Other competitors included Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin, the latter of which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled SpaceX’s new seven-seat Dragon V2 spacecraft, in Hawthorne, California on May 29, 2014. The private spaceflight company’s new seven-seat Dragon V2 aims to ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Musk, the 44-year-old on Sunday billionaire founder of PayPal, the online pay service, and founder of Tesla, the electric car company, told reporters in September 2014 that the “goals of SpaceX are very long-term, which is to establish a city on Mars,” according to Bloomberg.

“SpaceX Falcon 9 flights are suspended while this incident is investigated, meaning that other planned SpaceX commercial flights for their customers will be delayed,”Forbes reports.

Appendix B: Pew Research Study – Public’s View on Privatization of Space

SpaceX Falcon 9 mission is not routine in the use of private, reusable rockets to service America’s space program.

America’s SpaceX and Russia’s Orbital Sciences are private space rocket launch companies that are rapidly growing, as a result of strategically partnering in NASA’s ongoing space programmatic priority toward privatizing more routine missions – such as the transport of supplies and eventually astronauts and science investigators to and from the International Space Station, says a 2011 Pew Research Center Study on the public’s view on privatization of space.

That study’s poll found that “nearly six-in-ten Americans say it is essential for the United States to continue to be a world leader in space exploration. At the same time, recent Gallup polling finds that Americans today have less admiration for NASA, with fewer giving the agency “excellent” or “good” marks for its performance.”

Pew Research Center’s blog by  adds: “NASA’s efforts at privatization have taken only a small part of its annual budget, which, this year totals $17.6 billion. So far, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences have been able to provide launch capabilities for a lot less than the space shuttle, but they also have less capacity than the shuttle in terms of payload.”

“Factoring in NASA’s financial assistance in developing the Falcon 9 rocket and the cost of the 12-launch contract, the space agency is paying SpaceX about $166 million per launch to the International Space Station. By contrast, estimates for the cost of sending the recently retired space shuttle to the ISS range as high as $1.5 billion, including the money spent developing and building the shuttles.”

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