Ep. 26, Page 19

smbhax on June 30, 2015

An unmanned SpaceX rocket taking supplies, including food and a new docking mechanism, to the International Space Station exploded shortly after launch on Sunday; it joins “the US Cygnus ship and the Russian Progress craft” as recent casualties on supply ferrying missions to the ISS. The Falcon-9 rockets had enjoyed 18 missions without mishap before this, but this accident—due to “an overpressure event in the upper-stage liquid oxygen tank,” according to early data—grounds the Falcon-9 line until an investigation is carried out and any required alterations made. This leaves companies wishing to put satellites into space with only one launching option—the European Ariane-5 rocket—since the other two commercial launch systems, the Falcon and International Launch Service's Proton, have both been grounded after mishaps. Good news for Arianespace, maybe, but tough times for the satellite industry!
Even with the string of supply mission failures, astronauts on the ISS have sufficient supplies to last until October. The Russians get another shot at resupplying them this Friday.