A space education journalist is among those who witnessed and recorded the explosion of an unmanned Antares rocket seconds after its launch. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A journalist from a space education publication captured on video the explosion of an unmanned Antares seconds after it lifted off from a commercial launch pad in Virginia on Tuesday (October 28). The footage, shot by a journalist from Zero-G News, shows the Antares rising slowly into the night sky as flames suddenly engulf the rocket from the bottom to the top about 11 seconds after lift-off, before the vehicle sinks back downward in a conflagration. It's the first accident since NASA turned to private operators to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. The 14-story rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, blasted off its seaside launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility at 6:22 p.m. EDT (2222 GMT), carrying a Cygnus cargo ship bound for the space station. It burst into flames moments later, then plunged to the ground in a huge ball of fire and smoke, but authorities said no one was hurt. The six crew members in orbit aboard the space station - two NASA astronauts, one from the European Space Agency and three Russian cosmonauts - watched the launch via a NASA TV feed, said Mike Suffredini, the space station program manager. With a Russian cargo ship due to reach the space station on Wednesday (October 29), just 14 hours after the explosion in Virginia, the loss of the Cygnus vessel posed no immediate problem for the orbiting team. Orbital Sciences stock fell 15.5 percent to a two-month low of $25.65 in after-hours trading. The cause of the mishap was under investigation, said Frank Culbertson, Orbital Sciences executive vice president.