“Space is hard…” says Satya Nadella as SpaceX’s CRS-7 unmanned resupply mission breaks apart just after launch
A launch failure for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket today has seen two pairs of Microsoft’s brand new HoloLens headsets go up in smoke.
The rocket, containing SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft, was set to carry the devices up to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a resupply mission.
The Falcon 9 rocket, which was later due to carry out SpaceX’s third attempt at landing back onto a barge, broke apart roughly two minutes into its ascent from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:21am ET.
NASA spokesperson George Diller confirmed that the launch vehicle was lost.
A statement on SpaceX’s Twitter account read: “The vehicle experienced an anomaly on ascent. Team is investigating. Updates to come.”
Microsoft boss Satya Nadella said on Twitter: “Space is hard…
@NASA we’re with you and ready to try again!”
Falcon 9 was lifting its Dragon cargo module into orbit, with the Dragon carrying 2.5 tonnes of supplies for the crew of the ISS. Other supplies lost include experiments and engineering equipment, as well as food and oxygen.
SpaceX’s Dragon has so far carried out six successful resupply missions to the ISS, with the first being in 2012. This is SpaceX’s first failure in reaching the ISS.
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, tweeted: “Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data.”
Microsoft had given NASA two sets of HoloLens devices, which were to be trialled by ISS astronauts for use in repairs and training.
Dubbed Sidekick, the HoloLens project would allow astronauts to use HoloLens as a virtual aid when working on the ISS.
“HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station,” said Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS program at NASA.
“This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.”
Consumer versions of the devices are set to cost up to £600 each, but it is likely the particular devices on board the Dragon would have far more costly after being modified with specialist software and hardware for use in space.
But now delivery of the HoloLens units will have been pushed back by months.
The cause of the launch failure is not yet clear. SpaceX said that it has dispatched a team to investigate, and will be holding a press conference later today.
Elon Musk has said that preliminary data from the SpaceX team suggests “an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank” looks to have caused problems.
He tweeted: “That’s all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis.”