SpaceX Sees Catastrophic Failure As Rocket Explodes On Launch

In a huge blow to what had been an unstoppable local success story, Hawthorne-based rocketship developer SpaceX saw a catastrophic failure on Sunday morning, which resulted in the explosion and destruction of what would have been the seventh mission to resupply the International Space Station.

The SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-7) mission was to have deliver supplies and cargo to the ISS. Instead, the SpaceX vehicle--and its entire payload--exploded only a few minutes after liftoff. SpaceX said its preliminary analysis suggests an "overpressure event" 139 seconds into the flight in the liquid oxygen tank caused the catastrophic failure of its rocket.

The failure is sure to cast a shadow over the plan by SpaceX to deliver astronauts to space, and also is a huge issue for NASA, which has seen three cargo disasters in the last year, including the catastrophic loss of an ISS mission by competitor Orbital Sciences in October and the loss of another ISS-bound supply ship in April.