Orbital Antares rocket explodes at launch
On Tuesday an unmanned Orbital Antares rocket exploded on launch from the Wallops Space flight Facility in Virginia. Video of the launch shows the rocket lifting just above the launch towers when there appeared to be an explosion in the spacecraft’s main engine. The rocket settled back to the ground and erupted into an orange fireball. At a news conference, NASA officials called the accident a ‘catastrophic anomaly’. The rocket was carrying a Cygnus cargo vessel loaded with science and supplies for the station. The flight was to have been Orbital’s third resupply mission to ISS.
There is as yet no indication what happened to the rocket. Frank Culbertson, Orbital executive vice president and general manager, said that he was thankful that there were no injuries either on board the rocket or on the ground. Orbital will lead the investigation to determine the cause of the accident. Culbertson said that the telemetry from the spacecraft will be analysed, as well as debris from the rocket.