Monday April 22, 2019
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SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies to International Space Station explodes after launch

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photo: www.spacex.com

Washington: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket-propelling Dragon spacecraft laden with crucial supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) exploded shortly after lift-off in Florida on Sunday.

Two virtual reality headsets to empower astronauts aboard the ISS were part of the supplies on board the SpaceX’s seventh commercial re-supply mission.

“We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo re-supply mission to the International Space Station. However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.

photo courtesy: www.spacex.com
photo courtesy: www.spacex.com

The cargo included food, systems hardware, research materials, computer resources and spacewalking equipment.

It also carried a docking adaptor to prepare the ISS for future commercial missions.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch failure marks three cargo failures from three different launch providers in the past few months.

In April, the Russian space agency lost control of its cargo ship en route to the ISS and were forced to abandon it.

In October 2014, an Orbital-ATK Antares rocket exploded on the launch pad, preventing supplies from reaching the ISS.

“We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight,” Bolden added.

The commercial cargo programme 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.”

The failure, however, does not deter the space agency from further cargo missions.

A Russian “Progress” cargo vehicle will launch from Kazakhstan on July 3 to the ISS.

“Orbital ATK, our other commercial cargo partner, is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year,” Bolden said.

“We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward,” he said.

This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge. (IANS)

Next Story

Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

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SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)