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Oct 28 2014

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Well, the good news is that no one was hurt

Orbital rocket explodes after launch on ISS resupply mission.

The rocket, capsule and supplies were valued at $200 mil, but it looks like there was extensive damage done to the launch area as well, and likely will set other mission launches back months waiting for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launch pad to be rebuilt. It has a second launch pad, but at this time its unclear if that was damaged as well, though judging from Orbital’s statement likely the second launch pad is OK.

Here’s NASA’s official press release on the mishap:

The following statement is from William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, regarding the mishap that occurred at Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia during the attempted launch of Orbital Sciences Corp’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft at 6:22 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.

“While NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today, we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap. The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies.

“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success. Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”

And here’s Orbital’s press release:

(Dulles, VA 28 October 2014) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, confirms that today’s Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was not successful. Shortly after lift-off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at 6:22 p.m. (EDT), the vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. According to NASA’s emergency operations officials, there were no casualties and property damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island. Orbital has formed an anomaly investigation board, which will work in close coordination with all appropriate government agencies, to determine the cause of today’s mishap.

“It is far too early to know the details of what happened,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Advanced Programs Group. “As we begin to gather information, our primary concern lies with the ongoing safety and security of those involved in our response and recovery operations. We will conduct a thorough investigation immediately to determine the cause of this failure and what steps can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident. As soon as we understand the cause we will begin the necessary work to return to flight to support our customers and the nation’s space program.”

Orbital will provide more information as it becomes available and is verified.

Admin note: As noted a couple of posts ago, I had a conference Monday and Tuesday and that blogging would be sporadic at best until Wednesday. This accident occurred Tuesday at 3:22pm Pacific Time but I was not able to post about it until Wednesday morning. For archiving purposes, I decided to pre-date this post to Tuesday to note the actual day that this accident occurred.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2014/10/28/well-the-good-news-is-that-no-one-was-hurt/

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