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LAUNCH PAD
What cargo was lost in the SpaceX explosion?
by Brooks Hays
Cape Canaveral, Fla. (UPI) Jun 29, 2015


'Cause unknown' in SpaceX rocket blast
Miami (AFP) June 29, 2015 - SpaceX came up empty Monday in its search to figure out why an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after blasting off from a NASA launchpad with a load of space-bound cargo.

The US-made rocket, which was carrying 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) of supplies aboard the Dragon cargo ship, blew up in a cloud of smoke on Sunday, raining down in pieces over the Atlantic Ocean and Florida coast.

"Cause still unknown after several thousand engineering-hours of review," CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter early Monday.

He said experts were now focusing on the final milliseconds of the flight in order to determine a cause.

The rocket failure was the third in a series of cargo disasters in the past eight months.

In October, US company Orbital's Antares rocket exploded after launch from Virginia, and in April, Russia lost contact with its Progress cargo ship shortly after liftoff.

While NASA and SpaceX continue to search for answers to the questions of why and how the latest resupply mission prematurely ended in a dramatic explosion, others are mourning the loss of cargo.

Another shot at landing a reusable rocket on a floating barge wasn't the only thing that went up in flames on Sunday morning, so too did food, equipment and science experiments, as well as a variety of expensive, cutting-edge technologies.

Students from South Carolina lost an electronic circuitry experiment for the second time. Their first experiment was destroyed on Oct. 28 when an Antares rocket out of Wallops Island, Virginia, exploded just after blastoff.

The accident afforded them a chance to make a number of improvements as they rebuilt the experiment. But it was all for naught, as the science project once again exploded in midair.

Colorado students are also disheartened by the recent accident. A team of middle-schoolers from Golden, Colorado, lost their microgravity experiment involving live worms, dubbed "wormonauts."

"They feel so heartbroken. All of the hard work and they don't have that closure," Shanna Atzmiller, a teacher at Bell Middle School, told the Daily News of her students. "We didn't even realize what we were seeing on the observation deck."

Two other student science teams from Colorado also had experiments involving algae and bacteria on board the doomed rocket.

Perhaps less heartbreaking, but certainly more expensive, is the loss of two Microsoft HoloLens headsets. The headsets were to offer astronauts an augmented reality experience on board the International Space Station by overlaying digital imagery on top whatever lay in front of their eyes. The technology was going to be used to provide instruction to astronauts as they performed various tasks on ISS.

"This new capability could reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency at which astronauts can work in space," an anticipatory press release read.

Other supplies, equipment and technologies lost -- many for the second time -- included a new spacesuit and a water filtration system, as well as food and water. The astronauts have plenty of food and water to last, but a lack of new equipment and materials may delay some planned activities.

The accident puts added pressure on the next ISS resupply mission. The Russian space agency is schedule to launch a rocket and cargo capsule to the space station on Friday.


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LAUNCH PAD
SpaceX rocket explodes after launch
Miami (AFP) June 28, 2015
An unmanned SpaceX rocket exploded less than three minutes after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday, in the first major disaster for the fast-charging company headed by Internet tycoon Elon Musk. Skies were sunny and clear for the 10:21 am (1421 GMT) launch of the gleaming white Falcon 9 rocket that was meant to propel the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station on a ... read more


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