Rocket explodes seconds after liftoff

A Nasa rocket carrying supplies destined for the International Space Station exploded above its launch pad last night.

The unmanned Antares rocket blew up just six seconds after lift off from a commercial launch pad in Virginia yesterday, a Nasa TV broadcast showed.

There were no injuries, a Nasa spokesperson said, and the cause of the accident was not immediately available.

The 14-storey-tall rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences, lifted off from its seaside launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 6.22pm local time (10.22pm Irish time), and exploded six seconds later.

“There was failure on launch,” Nasa spokesman Jay Bolden said. “There was no indicated loss of life.

“There was significant property and vehicle damage. Mission control is trying to assess what went wrong.”

It was the second attempt to launch the craft yesterday.

Operators were forced to abandon the first attempt, despite perfect weather conditions, because a boat appeared in a hazard area nearby.

Antares was set to launch an unmanned Orbital-3 Cygnus spacecraft to deliver more than 2,200kg of supplies to the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions, as part of a $1.9bn (€1.5bn) deal with Nasa.


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