The unmanned Antares rocket exploded just seconds after takeoff on Tuesday evening at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Antares was on a resupply mission to the International Space Station.
The private rocket was developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation. It is capable of launching payloads heavier than five tons into low-Earth orbit. The rocket made its first successful launch on April 21, 2013.
The latest mission was supposed to be the third cargo mission for the company, which has contracted with NASA under a $1.9 billion contract. That contract is supposed to include a total of eight separate missions.
NBC News reports on the rocket’s payload, which included a robotic spacecraft:
The robotic Cygnus spacecraft — also built by Orbital — was filled with 5,000 pounds of food, water, experiments and other gear for the astronauts currently living aboard the space station.
Also aboard the craft, according to the launch director, was some “classified crypto equipment,” likely for secure communications, which the ground crews were instructed to prioritize.
An accident investigation team is being formed from NASA and Orbital personnel.
— Max Tsaparis (@MaxTsaparis) October 28, 2014
NASA has confirmed that no one was injured during the takeoff.
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