AUSTIN, Texas — An unmanned private spaceship, launched today from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, exploded shortly after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday.
The Cygnus spacecraft, operated by the Dulles, Virginia based space technology company Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), was launched atop an Antares rocket. NBC News reported that the craft contained 5,000 pounds of food, water, experiments, and other supplies designed for the International Space Station as part of a $1.9 billion contract to make eight delivery missions.
NASA’s live TV feed reported shortly after the accident that the NASA launch director confirmed all personnel had been accounted for with no casualties reported. The NASA personnel were calling the event a “catastrophic anomaly” and noted that the countdown had been “flawless,” with no issues reported. Instructions were heard being given to all personnel to collect notes and evidence to be gathered in a central location for the investigation into the cause.
NASA had posted a photograph of the Antares rocket, shortly before liftoff, on their official Twitter account:
— NASA (@NASA) October 28, 2014
There has been a vehicle anomaly. We will update as soon as we are able.
— Orbital Sciences (@OrbitalSciences) October 28, 2014
NBC News has posted raw video of the launch and explosion. In the video, which begins at T-minus 10 seconds before the launch, shows the liftoff and then the explosion about 15 seconds after liftoff, with the rocket falling back down to the launchpad in a large ball of flames. The NASA announcer is overheard instructing the launch team to “maintain position at your consoles.”
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