NASA’s unmanned Antares rocket exploded unexpectedly Tuesday seconds after it took off in an attempt to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
A fireball filled the night sky after the explosion, which destroyed the rocket supplied by Orbital Sciences Corp., at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
NASA officials said on the broadcast of the launch that no personnel appear to be in danger, and the damage to the facility appears to be limited after the burning rocket crashed to the ground. The agency will begin an investigation into the rocket’s failure that includes officials from NASA, Antares’ developer Orbital Sciences Corporation and launch site Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops, Va.
The Antares rocket had been scheduled to launch on Monday to deliver over 5,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS, but was postponed because a boat was too close to the launch area.
NASA had awarded to Orbital Sciences in 2008 a contract for the rocket company to demonstrate successful cargo delivery to the ISS. The explosion was the rocket’s first unsuccessful launch out of its five launches to date.