SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket broke up just minutes after its launch with a robotic Drago cargo capsule for the International Space Station, NASA said.
The Falcon took off right on time, rising into the sunny skies over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florda at 10:21 a.m. ET. But shortly afterward, NASA spokesman George Diller reported that the launch vehicle was lost.
The mission's primary objective was to deliver the Dragon to the space station with more than two and a half tons of supplies, equipment and experiments — ranging from a new docking adapter for accommodating future U.S.-built spaceships to a virtual-reality headset for the station's crew.
This was to have been the first robotic cargo delivery since a Russian Progress capsule went awry in April, resulting in the loss of the craft's 3-ton payload. The Dragon's payload includes food, oxygen and other much-needed basics — and its loss will put even more pressure on the crew and mission planners.
The Dragon previously made six successful cargo runs under the terms of a $1.6 billion contract with NASA, plus an initial demonstration mission in 2012. Sunday's loss marked SpaceX's first failed mission to the space station.