Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ISS Resupply Mission Explodes

Hey Space Placers!

I am just learning of the explosion, or in NASA terms, mishap, of the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket just after launch on 10/28/14. News travels a bit slow while crossing the Atlantic Ocean even in the Internet age.

The unmanned resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was the 3rd resupply mission for the Dulles, VA based Orbital Sciences Corporation. This was the st launch of the two stage Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Island Flight facility, and was the largest launch vehicle to ever be launched from the historic facility.

The Antares lifted off and exploded 6 seconds later and was captured live by NASA TV HD cameras. The explosion is all the more dramatic as it was at night. Fortunately there were no injuries but I am pretty sure the launch pad had to suffer some damage from the exploding fireball and debris.

The launch had been originally scheduled for 10/27/14 but had to be scrubbed due to a sail boat being in the launch zone.

A mishap investigation board will be convened to determine what caused the explosion. The rocket sends telemetry (data) back to mission controllers for a large number of engine and rocket sensors plus the board will review manufacturing records for the record. There will also be wreckage that can be used to determine what happened. I am pretty sure Orbital and NASA will find out what happened and make sure that the issue is corrected.

It has been a long time since there has been a US launch mishap like this and it proves once again that launching rockets is not a slam dunk evolution. Here is NASA's official comment on the mishap. Also, here is the news conference that was held by NASA regarding the mishap.

The other resupplier to the ISS is SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule. SpaceX will have to do the resupply missions until the cause of the Orbital Sciences launch mishap is found and corrected which will take some amount of time.

Sky Guy in VA

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