It has been two days since the Falcon 9 carrying the CRS-7 Dragon exploded and there are currently two leading THEORIES on what happened.
As we have yet to hear an official reason from SpaceX these are just PURE SPECULATION at this point.
1) The International Docking Adapter or a part of it came lose during the flight and impacted with the top of the 2nd Stage. This caused damage to the 2nd stage that resulted in the explosion.
2) The Liquid Oxygen tank ruptured causing the explosion, either due to a manufacturing issue or because of a leak in the Helium Pressure system which caused too much pressure to build in the tank.
At this point it is impossible to say if these are even close to the truth and until we hear officially from SpaceX the speculation will continue to grow.
This morning SpaceX launched their latest mission to the International Space Station, unfortunately during the first stage flight the rocket exploded causing lost of Falcon, Dragon and the cargo it was carrying
Among the cargo that Dragon was carrying was the first of two International Docking Adapters for the station which will be used by Boeing and SpaceX to dock their crewed vehicles in the future. They were also flying the Meteor experiment which was originally launched on the fated Orb-3 mission last year but lost when the rocket exploded. For further details of the cargo manifest check out this pdf file.
Below are screen grabs of the launch captured from the Webcast
While the Progress 59 (M-27M) spacecraft is still in orbit, Russian Mission Control have declared that it cannot be recovered, they have tried repeatedly to send commands to the vehicle in an attempt to control the rapid spinning but as several reports have stated they have had no luck. In addition orbital tracking shows at least 44 different objects where the Progress vehicle is supposed to be, while they don’t know exactly what these are it doesn’t bode well for the spacecraft or mission.
As we started previously there is no immediate impact to the International Space Station crew either from the vehicle or the lost cargo. However combined with the lost of Orbital’s Cygnus last year it does present challenges for the future depending on how long it takes them to determine the root cause of the failure and deal with any changes needed to address that. At present there are four vehicles available that provide Cargo to the station Russia’s Progress, Japan’s HTV, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus and SpaceX’s Dragon. Due to the accident the next Cygnus is currently scheduled to launch in November on an Atlas V. An investigation will now have to be performed to determine what happened with the Progress and determine what needs to be done to address that, therefore it is difficult to determine when the next flight will be. HTV is currently scheduled to fly once a year with the next flight in August which leaves Dragon to perform the bulk of the re-supply at present. The next flight is scheduled for June with at least two more later this year. It seems likely that the manifests for these missions could be changed to ensure essential supply levels are maintained on the station. UPDATE – Russian Mission Control have released some initial data indicating an issue was spotted 1.5 seconds before separation from Soyuz launcher.