US space agency NASA’s space mission to the International Space Station (ISS) turned unfortunate as a rocket carrying an unmanned spacecraft bound to the space station erupted in flames after takeoff on Tuesday.
The launch vehicle, named Antares rocket, exploded soon after take-off at 3:22 p.m. PT at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at the Wallops Island Flight Facility of NASA in Virginia.
The preliminary report suggested that the rocket suffered a fiery engine failure at the first-stage just six seconds after blast off before halting mid-air and falling back to Earth.
Meanwhile, NASA confirmed that no reports of casualty or injuries were reported in the incident and the explosion caused damages to the launch site only. The NASA officials said that a 1,400 square-mile launch hazard area was cleared before the liftoff in the event of a rocket failure.
The Antares rocket, developed by the Orbital Sciences Corporation, was carrying an Orbital-made Cygnus CRS-3 spacecraft that was loaded with nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies and space experiments meant to resupplied to the International Space Station. Scientists said that this is the heaviest payload to date for the Virginia-based rocket firm.
The launch of Antares rocket was firstly scheduled for Monday but was postponed until Tuesday after a singular stray boat drifted into the launch site and caused disruptions in the NASA’s space mission.
The unmanned spacecraft was believed to be docked with the space station on November 2, when a crew of six astronauts of Expedition 41 was to unload the supplies.
In 2008, Orbital Corp. penned down a USD 1.9 billion contract with the US space agency as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services of the organization to conduct several cargo missions to the International Space Station.