Mere seconds after leaving the launchpad today, an unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket contracted by NASA malfunctioned, exploded, and crashed back to Earth. The incident occurred at 6:22 pm Eastern at the Wallops Island Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia.
There were no crew aboard the craft, and NASA has confirmed that nobody was harmed. However, early reports estimate a significant amount of damage to equipment and facilities.
In addition to thousands of pounds of supplies destined for the International Space Station, the rocket was also carrying the first payload to launch from Planetary Resources — the fledgling asteroid mining company whose investors include Larry Page and James Cameron.
Here is the full cargo manifest from NASA (via SpaceFlightInsider):
Science investigations: 1,602.8 lbs.
-U.S. science: 1,254.4 lbs
-International partner science: 348.3 lbs
Crew supplies: 1,649 lbs
-Equipment: 273.4 lbs
-Food: 1,360.3 lbs
-Flight prcedure books: 15.4 lbs
Vehicle hardware: 1,404.3 lbs
-U.S. hardware: 1,338.2 lbs
-JAXA hardware: 66.1 lbs
Spacewalk equipment: 145.5 lbs
Computer resources: 81.6 lbs
-Command and data handling equipment: 75 lbs
-Photopgraphy/TV equipment: 6.6 lbs
We will update this article with new information as it becomes available
- Watch NASA test fire a giant rocket engine for its mighty Space Launch System
- SpaceX launches both a reused rocket and capsule in successful ISS cargo mission
- Prepare for liftoff! Here’s 7 crazy facts about the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket
- Everything you need to know about the SpaceX BFR project
- SpaceX is blazing a trail to Mars, one milestone at a time