A rocket launched by NASA has exploded after lift off – and the whole horrific scene was captured on camera.
The Antares rocket was launched in Wallops Island, Virginia, and instead of a routine launch the space craft exploded mid-air and fell to the ground in a massive blast.
The rocket was unmanned and on its third resupply mission to the International Space Station.
NASA issued a statement saying “No injuries have been reported, and Orbital reports that all personnel around the Wallops Flight Facility launch site have been accounted for”.
NASA said the rocket suffered a “catastrophic anomaly”, but there were no indications of any problems beforehand.
Here is a video of the explosion.
The cargo spacecraft, carrying some 2300kg of supplies and experiments for the International Space Station, launched at 6.22pm (9.22am Sydney time) when the incident occurred.
NASA spokesman Jay Bolden told CNN, “There was significant property and vehicle damage. Mission control is trying to assess what went wrong”.
The same rocket was scheduled to liftoff on Monday but the launch was scrubbed because there was a boat inside the safety zone southwest of the launch pad.
NASA reported “Public safety is our top priority for launch operations and the teams at Wallops have done a tremendous job getting ready to support these launches. But, we also need the public’s help to ensure the safe and successful beginning of these resupply missions to the International Space Station,” said Bill Wrobel, Wallops director.
Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research said while he didn’t want to speculate what happened to the Antares rocket, it may have only taken a small problem to result this spectacular and dangerous event.
“Launch failures are very much part of life in the space industry. You can have more confidence in launch vehicles with a lot of successes behind them and this was a relatively new launcher, so the chances of success are less known,” he told Business Insider.
“One thing that space engineering requires is lots of redundancy. That means that there is always a fallback position, and failures like this are planned for, so there will still be plenty of food and equipment on the space station. Alternatives for this failed delivery will also have been planned for and those plans will now go into action. There are likely to be particular experiments that cannot be run because the experimental equipment and subjects have been destroyed, but in general I don’t think the impact will be serious.”
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