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SpaceX rocket explodes after launch

June 28, 2015 6:14 pm

An unmanned rocket by Elon Musk’s SpaceX on a resupply mission to the International Space Station exploded Sunday just minutes after launch.

It wasn’t clear what caused the rocket, named Dragon, to fail. SpaceX will conduct an investigation overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration.

It was the third resupply mission to fail in recent months. The three astronauts on the space station have about four months worth of supplies, according to NASA.

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Sunday’s flight was carrying more than 2 tons of goods, including 1,500 pounds of food and provisions for the crew.

More cargo missions are planned this summer, including Russian flights on July 3 and July 22, and a Japanese launch on August 16. The next SpaceX flight is scheduled for September 1.

Also aboard the doomed Dragon spacecraft were a new docking device and a water filtration system.

Three space station astronauts, two Russians and NASA’s Scott Kelly, had been awaiting SpaceX’s shipment, which was meant to arrive on Tuesday.

In a tweet from space Sunday afternoon, he said he watched the launch. “Space is hard,” wrote Kelly, who is the brother-in-law of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

SpaceX — which is headed by Musk — has made seven trips to the ISS under a contract the company has with NASA, the latest of which was completed on May 21. It is the first company to complete a return trip to the space station, a feat previously achieved by only governments.

Dragon was also meant to bring back nearly 1,400 pounds of cargo, including hardware and trash, in its return trip. The spaceship was scheduled to land in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, California, in about five weeks.

The most recent resupply mission to fail occurred In late April when Russia had to abandon a trip to the International Space Station after its spacecraft carrying 3 tons of cargo lost control.

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