SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carrying a robotic Dragon resupply capsule exploded less than three minutes after launch on June 28. The vehicle was bringing supplies to the International Space Station.
Credit: NASA TV/Space.com
The three crewmembers currently aboard the International Space Station are in no danger of running out of crucial supplies despite today's failure of a SpaceX cargo mission to the orbiting lab, NASA officials said.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's robotic Dragon cargo capsule exploded just over two minutes after launching from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 10:21 a.m. EDT (1421 GMT) today (June 28). Despite this being the third space station resupply vehicle to fail to reach its target in the last eight months, NASA officials said the crew is well stocked through October, with more supplies due to be delivered in the coming months.
Michael Suffredini, NASA's International Space Station program manager, said in a press conference today following the rocket explosion that the current supply situation would have to be much more dire to consider bringing the current crewmembers home. In addition, there are no plans to cancel or reschedule the arrival of three new crewmembers to the station in July. [Explosion! SpaceX CRS-7 Mission Ends In Disaster (Video)]
Freighters headed for the International Space Station carry a mixture of scientific experiments, equipment and hardware for the station, and supplies for the crewmembers who live there. Those supplies can include essentials like food, water and oxygen, as well as items not crucial for survival.
Suffredini explained that the station is normally loaded with enough supplies to support the crew for six months; currently, the station is stocked for four months.
"If you have no means to get supplies up [to the station] at about 45 days before you get to zero, that’s when we get into the process of planning the return of the crew, " Suffredini said. "If the time comes and we decide we don't have the logistics to support the crew, we always have a vehicle there that can bring them home safely. And we would certainly do that, but we're not even close to that kind of conversation today based on the logistics we have on board."
SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo vehicle is the third resupply craft that has failed to reach the orbiting station in the last eight months. In October, an Orbital ATK Antares rocket exploded seconds after it pushed off the launch pad carrying Orbital's Cygnus resupply spacecraft. And the Russian Progress 59 cargo vehicle successfully separated from its Soyuz rocket after its April launch but fell back to Earth before making its delivery.
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