On Tuesday, Orbital Sciences rocket launch ended in fire. Thankfully, no people were injured. But, there was a fair amount of gear onboard the Cygnus spacecraft when the rocket exploded.
“We do want to express our disappointment that we were not able to fulfill our obligation to the International Space Station program and deliver this load of cargo, especially to the researchers who had science on board and the people that were counting on the various hardware and components that were going to the station,” Orbital Executive Vice President Frank Culbertson said during a news conference following the rocket explosion.
The Cygnus spacecraft was carrying nearly 4,900 pounds of cargo. Just over 1,600 pounds were various experiments, satellites and other gear.
Planet Labs had 26 tiny satellites heading towards the International Space Station. These tiny satellites, image below, are designed to take images of the Earth continuously as they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes.
Will Marshall of Planet Labs had this to say in about Tuesday’s Antares rocket failure.
“Planet Labs understands the risks of launch. Our approach to mitigate these risks is to deploy our fleets of satellites on multiple launch vehicles, from multiple vendors. We also place more satellites in orbit than we require in each launch so that if satellites fail in orbit we ensure continuity.”
Planetary Resources lost their Arkyd 3 (A3) spacecraft. This was designed to be a precursor to the Arkyd 100 Series, which will one day hunt for asteroids that could potentially be mined for resources.
Chris Lewicki of Planetary Resources wrote in part, “While we are saddened about the unfortunate consequences of this launch failure, our own development schedule, budget and plan are practically unaffected. In fact, we are already hard at work developing our next test vehicle, the Arkyd 6, which is planned for launch in Q3 2015. It will build on the learnings from our development of the A3 and iterate to our next level of design.”
There were more than a dozen student experiments also destroyed in Tuesday’s failed launch. These experiments ranged from exploring the effects of zero gravity on crystals to how quickly milk would spoil in space.
NASA is also warning residents in the area not to touch any rocket debris they may find. If you do happen to find a piece of debris, contact officials at (757) 824-1295.
Image credits: Koichi Wakata, Planet Labs