SpaceX Fal­con 9 rocket ex­plodes af­ter launch


An un­manned SpaceX rocket ex­ploded just min­utes af­ter liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sun­day, mark­ing a ma­jor set­back for the fast-charg­ing com­pany headed by In­ter­net ty­coon Elon Musk.

The ac­ci­dent was the third in less than a year in­volv­ing U.S. and Rus­sian sup­ply ships bound for the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, and raised new con­cerns about the flow of food and gear to the astro­nauts liv­ing in or­bit.

Skies were sunny and clear for the 10:21 a.m. (1421 GMT) launch of the gleam­ing white Fal­con 9 rocket that was meant to pro­pel the Dragon cargo ship on a rou­tine sup­ply mis­sion, the sev­enth for SpaceX so far.

But two min­utes, 19 sec­onds into the flight, con­tact was lost. Live tele­vi­sion im­ages from SpaceX’s we­b­cast and NASA tele­vi­sion showed a huge puff of smoke bil­low­ing out­ward for sev­eral sec­onds, and then tiny bits of the rocket fall­ing like con­fetti against a back­drop of blue sky.

“The ve­hi­cle has bro­ken up,” said NASA com­men­ta­tor Ge­orge Diller.

SpaceX’s live we­b­cast of the launch went silent as the rocket ex­ploded.

Mo­ments later, a SpaceX com­men­ta­tor said “there was some kind of ano­maly,” and noted that the rocket had ig­nited its nine Mer­lin en­gines and reached su­per­sonic speed.

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