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Rocket failure proves 'Space is hard,' delivers setback to SpaceX




Space X's Falcon 9 rocket as it lifts off from space launch complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida June 28, 2015 with a Dragon CRS7 spacecraft.  The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, following what was meant to be a routine cargo mission to the International Space Station.
Space X's Falcon 9 rocket as it lifts off from space launch complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida June 28, 2015 with a Dragon CRS7 spacecraft. The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, following what was meant to be a routine cargo mission to the International Space Station. "The vehicle has broken up," said NASA commentator George Diller, after NASA television broadcast images of the white rocket falling to pieces. "At this point it is not clear to the launch team exactly what happened." The disaster was the first of its kind for the California-based company headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who has led a series of successful launches even as competitor Orbital Sciences lost one of its rockets in an explosion in October, and a Russian supply ships was lost in April. SpaceX's 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. AFP PHOTO/ BRUCE WEAVER (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)
BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images

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A SpaceX rocket loaded with much-needed supplies exploded just minutes after its launch on Sunday. Just after, American astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted from the International Space Station, "Sadly failed Space is hard."

As the third mission to the space station to be lost in recent months, the failure raises questions about the future of commercial spaceflight and the next step for SpaceX, Elon Musk's California-based aerospace company.

Greg Autry is an assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship at the USC Marshall School of Business. He's been researching commercial spaceflight firms for more than a decade, and he told Take Two that the failure will likely not be so much of a technical setback for SpaceX, but could prove to be a political one.

"I'm sure there will be opponents of commercial space, people who want to stick with the old-school, government-run rocket programs, who will use this as an opportunity to try to say that we need to stick with our traditional ways of contracting doing things," Autry said. "But, frankly, that's ironic because we all know that the space shuttle was not the safest transportation system in the world, having [had] two failures."

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