LONDON: NASA’s SpaceX mission came to an end after its rocket exploded on its way to International Space Station.
An unmanned Dragon spacecraft, which was carrying supplies and station docking adaptor and the Falcon 9 rocket propelling it were destroyed in the explosion, causing NASA and the International Space station a “big loss” on Sunday.
A video posted to Instagram showed the explosion, and as per the reports pieces of the spacecraft and rocket could be seen falling into the Atlantic Ocean.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that though they were disappointed by the loss, the astronauts were safe aboard the station and has sufficient supplies for the next several months, the Guardian reported.
They will work closely with SpaceX to understand and fix the problem and return to flight, he added.
Cargo on the umanned Dragon SpX-7 spacecraft, which was powered by a Falcon 9 rocket, included food and care packages, systems hardware, “science materials”, computer resources and spacewalking equipment. It also carried a docking adaptor for the station as part of operations to prepare for future commercial missions. At the end of a five-week mission the rocket was due to return 675kg of goods to Earth.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigators were already working at the site of the ill-fated launch. Pam Underwood of the FAA said the expedition had been conducted under an FAA launch license and the FAA would provide oversight to SpaceX as it tried to work out what had happened. Underwood said the incident was being classified as a “mishap”.
William Gerstenmaier, a senior official at Nasa headquarters, emphasised that no negligence had occurred, and such incidents made them understand the failure and move forward.
SpaceX is owned and operated by the technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, who took to Twitter and wrote “Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data.”
At the press conference, Gwen Shotwell, the company’s chief operating officer, said the investigation into the crash would take less than a year, though it could last several months.
Earlier on Sunday, NASA had tweeted a picture of the launch of the rocket with the traditional phrase: “We have liftoff.” Shortly afterward, on Twitter, the agency said: “Something went wrong with the launch. @SpaceX is evaluating the status of the mission.”
Sometime later they added: “The range confirmed that the vehicle has broken up. @SpaceX is putting together their anomaly team.”