Unmannned Rocket Explodes After Launch

October 29, 2014

An unmanned supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded shortly after its launch in Virginia last night [Oct 28]. The rocket had originally been scheduled to launch last week, however it was delayed due to Hurricane Gonzalo impact on the tracking site located in Bermuda.

Last night the $200 million rocket and spacecraft — which was carrying some 5,000lbs of supplies — exploded in midair 6 seconds after launching, producing huge flames but no injuries or deaths.

When the launch was first delayed by Gonzalo, NASA and Orbital said, “Due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Gonzalo on the island of Bermuda, where an essential tracking site used to ensure public safety during Antares launches is located, the previously announced “no earlier than” launch date of October 24 for the Orb-3 CRS mission to the International Space Station for NASA is no longer feasible.”

Following the delay due to Gonzalo, the launch had been re-scheduled for takeoff on Monday night, but the launch was postponed again when a sailboat entered the safety range.

Orbital Sciences Corporation confirms that the Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility “was not successful,” saying that after lift-off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at 6:22 p.m. [EDT], the “vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure.”

“It is far too early to know the details of what happened,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Advanced Programs Group after last night’s explosion. “As we begin to gather information, our primary concern lies with the ongoing safety and security of those involved in our response and recovery operations.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation immediately to determine the cause of this failure and what steps can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident. As soon as we understand the cause we will begin the necessary work to return to flight to support our customers and the nation’s space program.”

NASA’s William Gerstenmaier said, “While NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today, we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap. The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies.

“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success. Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback.

“Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”

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Category: Accidents and fires, All, News

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  1. J says:

    It’s cool… it’s only $200mil