Unmanned Orbital’s Rocket Explodes on Takeoff

Photo of author

(Newswire.net — October 29, 2014)  — Antares was on a mission to restock the International Space Station, however it exploded shortly after takeoff Tuesday evening on Virginia’s eastern shore.

This was the third of eight planned Orbital missions to supply ISS with food and equipment, however, more than 5,000 pounds of food, supplies and science equipment was destroyed just above NASA’s Wallop’s Island facility.

“There has been a vehicle anomaly. We will update as soon as we are able,” Orbital Sciences, a US-based company designing and manufacturing small- and medium-sized rocket systems, tweeted on Tuesday.

The ground team confirmed that no one has been injured, but the salvaging is complicated since the surrounding is secured because the “classified crypto equipment” is scattered around the crash site.

As if this was an omen, the countdown was aborted minutes before take-off, a day earlier, because a small sailboat ended up in the restricted area close to the launch site. The next day, Antares ended up in the fireball above the Virginia complex, creating a multi-million dollar junk yard near the launch site.  The cost of the launch alone was around $200 million, while the total cost for the cargo is yet to be determined, NASA revealed at the press conference.

Also onboard Antares was Planetary Resources’ Arkyd telescope prototype, which is being developed to explore space and identify natural resources from asteroids. The prototype was only a demo of the first Arkyd 100 telescope, which the company plans to launch in 2015. Some of the cargo will be delivered in December via SpaceX craft, the private Space Company owned by billionaire Elon Musk.

Each delivery by Orbital’s unmanned craft, is a tribute to a deceased person linked to the space flight. On Tuesday, everybody had white short-sleeved shirt with retro-look narrow black tie, as tribute to Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton.

The astronauts on the International Space Station missed their Halloween presents, however, they watched live from the space as Antares explode.

Astronauts have sufficient supplies to live in the ISS until March 2015.