Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cygnus Resupply Ship Bound for International Space Station Explodes Seconds After Launch

The Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo craft carrying supplies to the International Space Station has exploded just seconds after launch.

The Antares rocket exploded six seconds after launch. (credit: NASA)
Cygnus which launched in perfect conditions from Pad0A on Wallops Island at 10:22 p.m. Irish Time to begin a nine and a half minute journey to low-Earth orbit suffered a catastrophic anomaly six seconds after launch, falling back down to the launch pad moments later. 

Launch personnel confirmed that there were no personnel in the area at the time of the incident, and that damage was isolated to property within the vicinity.

The Expedition 41 crew aboard the International Space Station were informed shortly after the accident occurred.

Orbital Sciences issued the following statement shortly after the accident:

          “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."


Among the science Cygnus was to carry to the space station was a study to enable the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere, as well as a number of student investigations from around the world.

Cygnus was scheduled to arrive at the station and be berthed to the Earth having port of the Harmony Node on November 2.

Less than twelve hours after the failed launch of Antares, the Russian Progress 57 resupply craft will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:45 a.m., with docking to the Pirs Docking Compartment just over six hours later.

More to follow shortly..