An unmanned spaceship operated by private firm Orbital Sciences Corp’s aboard Antares rocket with Cygnus cargo spacecraft blew up mid-air at 6:22 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28.
The mid-air accident occurred at Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, said NASA in a statement.
The contractor of the porject Orbital Sciences Corp. said no one was believed to have been injured and the damage seems to be limited to the facilities.
NASA TV footage showed flames rising into the sky. The cause of the explosion remains unclear. The spaceship was supposed to be on its third cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA’s William Gerstenmaier said, “NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today.”
He clarified that the failed mission will not affect the crew of the International Space Station like 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,” he said.
The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard was filled with over 5,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions.
The Orbital-3 mission is Orbital Sciences’ third contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA that failed.
Similarly, in August another private space vehicle launcher SpaceX’s test rocket exploded in mid-flight on 23 August 2014, due to technical snags on at the SpaceX Rocket Development and Test Facility in McGregor, Texas. Due to some anomaly during the test flight, the rocket chose to self-detonate and exploded and no injuries are reported.