SpaceX Thrust Into Critical Role After Competitor's Catastrophic Explosion

Hawthorne-based SpaceX has been thrust into a critical role with NASA, after a catastrophic launch failure and explosion in Virginia Tuesday evening. Orbital Sciences aborted the launch of its Antares rocket mission Tuesday evening, scattering pieces of its rocket across the night sky. The rocket had carried 5,000 pounds of experiments and equipment for the crew of the International Space Station. Both Orbital Sciences and SpaceX had been selected to help provide resupply services to the ISS by NASA. Unlike the spectacular failure by Orbital Sciences, SpaceX has been successfully delivering cargo to the ISS on a regular schedule, most recently returning a payload from the ISS last week. Orbital Sciences is not using its own rockets, but instead is using refurbished rockets from Russia. Orbital Sciences' Antares has been grounded as the company and NASA work on determining the reason for the failure, leaving only SpaceX as a commercial resupply operator for the ISS.