NASA’s commercial spaceflight system suffered its first explosion after a supply rocket burst into flames Tuesday evening.
The rocket exploded moments after lift-off. No one was hurt, but the damages could be a big blow for NASA’s current efforts with U.S. private companies to launch commercial rockets.
An unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff Tuesday evening, with debris falling in flames over the launch site in Virginia. No injuries were reported following the first catastrophic launch in NASA’s commercial spaceflight effort.
NASA is paying billions of dollars to Orbital Sciences and the SpaceX company to make station deliveries, and it’s counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start flying U.S. astronauts to the orbiting lab as early as 2017. This was the fourth flight by Orbital Sciences to the orbiting lab.
Officials say the items on the rocket weren’t needed immediately by the astronauts currently at the International Space Station.
An investigation has been launched to see how the explosion happened.
Orbital Sciences’ executive vice president Frank Culbertson said things began to go wrong 10 to 12 seconds into the flight and it was all over in 20 seconds when what was left of the rocket came crashing down. He said he believes the range-safety staff sent a destruct signal before it hit the ground.
“We will understand what happened – hopefully soon – and we’ll get things back on track,” Culbertson assured his devastated team. “We’ve all seen this happen in our business before, and we’ve all seen the teams recover from this, and we will do the same.”
The company had an estimated $200 million worth of insurance on the rocket.
SOURCE: AP | VIDEO CREDIT: YouTube