WATCH: SpaceX rocket explodes after launch
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 1:54 PM - An unmanned SpaceX rocket carrying supplies bound for the International Space Station exploded soon after launch on Sunday morning.
The rocket took wing from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 10:21 a.m., with NASA confirming a few minutes into the flight that the rocket had broken up.
"There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause," SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted after the disaster. "That's all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis."
This is the third I.S.S. resupply problem in recent months. A Russian Progress cargo capsule spun out of control when it reached orbit, eventually deorbiting before it could dock with the station. In October, another private company, Orbital Sciences Corp., lost a vessel during a launch from Virginia.
The latest SpaceX rocket, carrying a Dragon cargo capsule, was packed with 5,300 pounds of supplies, equipment and experiments, including a new docking ring for the ISS.
NASA Administrator Charles Borden said in a statement that the current ISS crew had enough supplies to last several months, and the cargo resupply program was designed to accommodate the occasional loss.
"We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward. This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but we learn from each success and each setback," Bolden said.
Since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011, the astronauts and cosmonauts have relied on resupply and crew rotation using mostly Russian rockets.
NASA has increasingly turned to the private sector to pick up the slack on the unmanned cargo side. SpaceX has a 15-flight contract with NASA worth $2 billion, of which it has so far made six successful deliveries.
Rockets are typically single-use, but SpaceX has actually attempted to perfect the ability to land rockets after launch, although it has so far only managed a couple of near misses.