Air Force sent self-destruct signal to SpaceX rocket after failure

A self-destruct signal was sent to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that exploded after launching from Florida's Space Coast on Sunday morning, the Air Force confirmed.

The rocket, part of a resupply mission to the International Space Station, blew up two minutes after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Self-destruct commands, or Flight Termination Systems (FTS), are used to remove the risk of an out-of-control rocket. SpaceX's Elon Musk has said there was an pressure issue with the fuel tanks.

During a NASA press conference following the CRS-7 mission failure on Sunday, television reporter Dan Billow asked if a self-destruct transmission had be sent from the ground.  However, the question could not be immediately answered by the press conference panelists.

In a later follow up to the question, the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing made the following statement to Billow which he later posted on Twitter:

"During the launch, prior to the first stage shut-off, the Falcon 9 experienced an anomaly and catastrophic failure. Following the breakup of the Falcon 9 vehicle, 45th Space Wing Mission Flight Control Officers sent command destruct functions in accordance with Air Force policy and procedures to ensure public safety."

NASA Launch Commentator George Diller gave the first indication to the public that a self-destruct command had been sent by the Eastern Range safety officers.

Just seconds after the Falcon 9 rocket exploded off Florida's Space Coast during his live broadcast, Diller said, "We are trying to correlate the timelines between the last data that we got from the vehicle, which was a 2 minutes and 19 seconds, and correlate that with whatever the range safety officer was required to do with his actions as far as the flight termination systems. So that is still part of the data that is being pieced together."