SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying research and supplies to the International Space Station exploded shortly after lifting off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on Sunday, according to NASA and company officials. SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell told reporters during a Sunday press briefing that liftoff and first-stage flight were successful, but the rocket experienced an “anomaly” 139 seconds in that “led to the failure of the mission.” According to company Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s Twitter account, “There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank,” suggesting “counterintuitive cause.” Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for the human exploration and operations directorate, said the failure “is a blow to us,” noting a “lot of important research and equipment” were lost. However, he said the ISS crew “is fine on orbit.” “The SpaceX team and the ISS team did extremely well today. They did everything exactly right. They continued to stay focused, they continued to monitor the asset … and make sure there is no impact to the public or anyone else,” he said. Shotwell said the investigation team will study telemetry from 3,000 channels transmitted during the launch. “If there’s something there, we’re going to find it.” The Air Force certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket for national security space missions in May after an exhaustive two-year review.