(WALLOPS, Va.) — An unmanned space station supply rocket exploded Tuesday night, six seconds after launch from Wallops Island, Virginia.
Orbital Sciences Corp. said in a tweet shortly after the explosion that there had been “a vehicle anomaly. We will update as soon as we are able.”
The cargo rocket was supposed to launch Monday night, but that had to be scrubbed because a boat was too close to the “hazard zone” near the launch site.
This launch was the third of eight International Space Station cargo resupply missions under NASA’s $1.9 billion contract with Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia. Orbital provides the launch vehicle and cargo spacecraft, and NASA runs the range operations.
The Antares rocket was carrying 4,483 pounds of equipment to the station, including 1,360 pounds of food.
Orbital Sciences said everyone at the launch site had been accounted for, and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities.
NASA spokesman Rob Navias said there was nothing urgently needed by the space station crew on that flight.
The cargo ship was the fourth Cygnus bound for the orbiting lab; the first flew just over a year ago. This was the first catastrophic problem with the launches.
Shares of Orbital Sciences, which has the NASA contract to supply the station, fell 14 percent in after-hours trading after news of the launch failure.
Among the science cargo Cygnus was to transport to the space station was a study to enable the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere; a multitude of student investigations covering topics such as the effects of microgravity on plant growth and the rates of milk spoilage in space; and international research including a study to determine how blood flows from the brain to the heart in the absence of gravity.
On Monday evening, a sailboat about 26 feet long entered the hazard zone early in the launch count, NASA reported. The “hazard area” for the launch of the Antares is about 1,400 square miles off the coast of Wallops Island along the eastern shore of Virginia.
“Radar aircraft detected the boat and hailed it several times, but there was no response. A spotter plane made multiple passes around the boat at low altitudes using commonly understood signals such as wing waving to establish contact. However, the operator did not respond,” NASA said in a statement.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Recent posts in National News