Sunday, June 28, 2015

Unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon explode 2 minutes after launch

NASA video of the SpaceX Falcon9 Launch vehicle failure of June 28, 2015

SpaceX's latest unmanned launch of its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule ended tragically as a launch vehicle failure at 2minutes ans 19 seconds into launch.

Live streaming video of the launch was available and appears to have been something wrong with the second stage which explodes in a cloud of oxygen and rocket fuel. This causes the Dragon capsule to fall and the first stage to also explode in a chain reaction.

The mission was to resupply the International Space Station. This was the first failure of a Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle. There was no loss of life.

"Following a nominal liftoff, Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown, resulting in loss of mission. Preliminary analysis suggests the vehicle experienced an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank approximately 139 seconds into flight. Telemetry indicates first stage flight was nominal and that Dragon remained healthy for some period of time following separation."

How will it affect the supplies of astronauts on the ISS now ?

The previous unmanned resupply mission to the International Space Station by a Russian Progress spaceship had also resulted in failure, but NASA assured that the International Space Station had enough supplies to last with full rations till reserve levels upto July 24 and with reserves lasting till September 5th. Russian flight controllers had last month given up attempting to salvage a Progress cargo ship loaded with 3 tons of supplies and equipment intended for the International Space Station.

Even with this resupply failure, there are eight more resupply mission scheduled this year, including several this summer, “so there are plenty of ways to ensure the station continues to be well-supplied

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has posted a note on the company's Twitter channel: "Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data."

What other projects were lost in this explosion ?
Redditor halalastair compiled a list
More than 30 student research project;
  • Test pollination stimulation for food crops in low gravity
  • Test new type of plastic developed to block radiation from the Sun
  • The Meteor investigation takes high-resolution video and images of theatmosphere and uses a software program to search for bright spots
  • Test a theory that fuel sprays change from partial to group combustion as flames spread across a cloud of droplets
  • The Telomeres investigation collects crew member blood samples to determine how telomeres and telomerase are affected by space travel
  • Veg-03- cultivates a type of cabbage, which is harvested in orbit with samples returned to Earth for testing
  • analyzing the performance of Solar Liquid Power
  • Microsoft-holo lens for Project Sidekick[2]
  • Test explosives in microgravity /u/GTASanAndreasLubitz[3] 
  • 8 dove satellites for planet labs /u/Malhallah[4] 
  • A spacesuit on its 19 flight and IDA docking module /u/Malhallah

Falcon 9

Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. As the first rocket completely developed in the 21st century, Falcon 9 was designed from the ground up for maximum reliability. Falcon 9’s simple two-stage configuration minimizes the number of separation events -- and with nine first-stage engines, it can safely complete its mission even in the event of an engine shutdown.

Falcon 9 made history in 2012 when it delivered Dragon into the correct orbit for rendezvous with the International Space Station, making SpaceX the first commercial company ever to visit the station. Since then SpaceX has made a total of seven flights to the space station, both delivering and returning cargo for NASA. Falcon 9, along with the Dragon spacecraft, was designed from the outset to deliver humans into space and under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is actively working toward that goal.


68.4m(224.4 ft)
505,846kg(1,115,200 lb)
13,150kg(28,991 lb)
18 successful
1 failure on June 28th, 2015

3.7m(12 ft)


4,850kg(10,692 lb)

DRAGON spaceship (SpaceX)

Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations. Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial spacecraft in history to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and safely return cargo to Earth, a feat previously achieved only by governments. It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Currently Dragon carries cargo to space, but it was designed from the beginning to carry humans. Under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is now developing the refinements that will enable Dragon to fly crew. Dragon's first manned test flight is expected to take place in 2-3 years.


6,000kg (13,228 lbs)

25m3 (883 ft3)

3,000kg (6,614 lbs)


11m3(388 ft3)


The pressurized section of the spacecraft, also referred to as the capsule, is designed to carry both cargo and humans into space. Towards the base of the capsule but outside the pressurized structure are the Draco thrusters, Dragon's guidance navigation and control (GNC) bay and Dragon’s advanced heat shield.


7.2m (23.6 ft)

3.7m (12 ft)



Up to 2 Years


Update : Elon Musk, Choef of SpaceX tweeted "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause."

More photos of the explosion on Flickr.

Astronaut Scott Kelly also tweeted from the International Space Station : they saw the failed launch from space.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

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