An unmanned SpaceX rocket carrying supplies and a first-of-its-kind docking port to the International Space Station broke apart yesterday shortly after liftoff. It was a severe blow to NASA, still reeling from previous failed shipments.
The accident happened about two-and-a-half minutes into the flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida. A billowing white cloud emerged in the sky, growing bigger and bigger, then fiery plumes shot out of where the rocket was supposed to be, and pieces could be seen falling into the Atlantic.
More than 2,360kg of space-station cargo was on board, including the first docking port designed for future commercial crew capsules.
"We appear to have had a launch vehicle failure," announced NASA commentator George Diller.
The rocket shattered while traveling at 4,670kph, about 43km up. Everything appeared to go well in the flight until the rocket went supersonic.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk later said an over pressurisation occurred in the liquid-oxygen tank.