Nasa SpaceX mission to International Space Station ends in explosion

July 5, 2016 – 02:51 pm
An unmanned Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket propelling it were destroyed in the explosion.

In a statement, Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said: “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.”

At a lunchtime press conference, Michael Suffredini, manager of the space station programme, said the incident was a “big loss, I don’t want to underplay that”. But he said “we will pick ourselves up and get on to the next flight”.

Suffredini said the mission had until late October to support the ISS crew with logistics. If the day arrived where they were running out of food and water, a separate vehicle was available to bring the crew back to Earth.

“But we are not even close to that point, ” he said.

Suffredini said the equipment that had been lost, including a docking adaptor and a radio system, had duplicates that were still available to be sent up to the station. But he added: “We have lost some research hardware we will have to recover.”

At 10.22am on Sunday, Nasa 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.”

At the press conference, Gerstenmaier said Nasa and SpaceX would go ahead with the next scheduled supply flight on 3 July, despite the failures of the past three supply flights. He said it seemed prudent to keep doing the research.

“We are really starting to learn a lot now and provide data back to Earth, so we need to keep doing that, ” he said.

In April, a Russian cargo ship fell out of control and came down. Last October, another supply ship was destroyed in a launch accident.

In his statement, Nasa administrator Bolden said: “SpaceX has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first six cargo resupply missions to the station, and we know they can replicate that success.


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