KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo ship loaded with critical supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) were destroyed by a catastrophic explosion starting approximately 148 seconds after a successful blastoff today, June 28, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:21 a.m. EDT.
“Eastern Range confirms the Falcon 9 and Dragon vehicle broke up,” according to the USAF Eastern Range, 45th Space Wing as the vehicle was in flight and the first stage was firing.
The failure was immediately obvious to all of us watching the launch live on site from the Kennedy Space Center press site when the rocket disappeared into a expanding white cloud that was totally abnormal. See my launch and explosion photos herein.
“At this point, it’s not clear to the launch team exactly what happened,” NASA Launch Commentator George Diller reported on the live NASA TV broadcast.
It was the third launch failure of a cargo delivery run to the space station in the past half year -including both American and Russian rockets.
The Falcon 9 stopped ascending and broke apart and an abnormal vapor streak formed ahead of the rockets planned ascent path to orbit.
Within moments falling debris was visible in eyewitness photos from multiple angles.
“Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data,” tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk soon after the explosion.
The pressurized section of the Dragon was packed with over 4,000 pounds of research experiments, spare parts, gear, high pressure supply gases, food, water and clothing for the astronaut and cosmonaut crews comprising Expeditions 44 and 45 on the ISS.
Details to follow
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of the CRS-7 launch from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.
Learn more about SpaceX, Boeing, Space Taxis, Europa, Rosetta, Mars rovers, Orion, SLS, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Jun 28: “SpaceX launch, Orion, Commercial crew, Curiosity explores Mars, Antares and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings