Launch failure occurs at Virginia spaceport

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nasa Wallops Flight Facility Insignia
Image: Wallops Flight Facility.

A launch failure occurred at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Tuesday.

The failure occurred when Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket, which was carrying the Cygnus vehicle with cargo of 5,000 pounds (about 2,300 kg), exploded after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. local time (2222 UTC), creating a massive fireball in the sky. Nobody was reported injured during the explosion, but the rocket was destroyed. The cargo was supplies for the International Space Station (ISS). Despite the explosion, the astronauts working on the ISS will not run out of food or supplies, according to a NASA statement released on Tuesday.

Orbital's vice president Frank Culbertson said the contractor's spacecraft will not fly until the cause of the failure is determined. NASA plans to continue the mission of delivering supplies to astronauts once it fully understands how this happened.

The rocket was to launch on Monday night, but a boat entered the hazard area, delaying the launch until the following night.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation by NASA and Orbital Sciences. NASA said the National Transportation Safety Board is monitoring the investigation.