One of Orbital Science’s Antares rockets exploded yesterday, just seconds after launch from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Orbital Sciences is one of the private companies contracted to bring supplies to the ISS — it was the second private company to complete a cargo run to the ISS (SpaceX was the first). Yesterday’s flight would have been the third such mission for Orbital Sciences, but instead, it’s entering the record books for another, grimmer reason.
While the explosion shook those near the launch site and was by some likened to a small earthquake, no one was injured. It isn’t clear yet what happened, and today an investigation team began sifting through data, while another started sorting through debris near the crash site. Frank Culbertson, Orbital Sciences’ executive vice president, says the company will “get things back on track,” and that such an occurrence is, unfortunately, all too common, but they’ve “all seen the teams recover from this, and we will do the same.” Of course, that can’t happen until damage to the launch pad and other infrastructure is repaired, so it might be a while.