SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explodes minutes after launch from Florida

 A mission by an unmanned SpaceX Falcon-9 exploded within minutes after launch Sunday over the skies of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explodes minutes after launch from Florida
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Florida: A mission by an unmanned SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket exploded within minutes after launch Sunday over the skies of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The rocket, carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft, supplies and equipment was destined for the International Space Station after the blastoff at 10:21 a.m. local time.

The explosion occurred before the first stage was set to separate, a SpaceX spokesman said during the company's webcast.

"The vehicle has broken up," said NASA commentator George Diller, after the live webcast of the launch went silent about two minutes 19 seconds into the flight, and soon after the rocket could be seen exploding and small pieces tumbling back toward Earth.

"We appear to have had a launch vehicle failure," Diller said.

"At this point it is not clear to the launch team exactly what happened."

Moments later, a SpaceX commentator said the video link from the vehicle had been lost.

"There was some kind of anomaly during first stage flight," the commentator said, noting that the rocket had ignited its nine Merlin engines and reached supersonic speed.

"However, it appears something did occur during first stage operations," he added, referring to the stage of rocket flight before the cargo ship would have been able to separate from the first stage of the rocket and reach orbit.

The Dragon cargo ship was carrying 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) of gear to the space station, including a large parking space, known as an International Docking Adaptor, designed to make it easier for an array of commercial crew spacecraft to dock at the orbiting lab in the future.

Countdown was normal and the weather was clear, posing no concerns ahead of the launch.

After liftoff, SpaceX had planned to make a third try at a controlled, upright landing of its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform with the goal of one day making rockets as reusable as airplanes. 

(With Agency inputs)