Just after sunset last evening, an unmanned cargo rocket exploded. The Antares rocket was carrying more than 5,000 pounds of supplies, experiments and other gear to the International Space Station.
Frank L. Culberston Jr., executive VP of Orbital Sciences Corporation (producers of the rocket) described what happened in a news conference yesterday.
“The ascent stopped,” he said. “There was some disassembly of the first stage, it looked like, and then it fell to earth.”
Good news was no one was injured.
As for the crew aboard the International Space Station? They have enough supplies to last until at least next spring. So, yesterday’s launch failure won’t impact them in any way.
NASA still has faith in Orbital Sciences and their Antares rocket. “The thing that’s important is that we don’t overreact,” said NASA’s associate administrator of human explorations and operations, William Gerstenmaier.
“I don’t see this as a problem or a concern for us in the future. It’s just more awareness of what we’re trying to go do and it’s not easy.”
One group did lose a little faith today and that’s investors. Orbital Sciences Corp. stock is down nearly 17% right now. No one’s surprised there. A public rocket company that has a failed launch? A sell-off is to be expected.
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, expressed sympathy and words of encouragement for Orbital Sciences in a tweet.
In some much-needed good news for rocket launches, the Russian Space Agency launched a cargo vessel from Kazakhstan earlier today. That spacecraft has arrived at the International Space Station with several tons of gear, including food.
At the end of the day, launching rockets is incredibly difficult. Hopefully, Orbital Sciences bounces back from this better than ever.