An unmanned NASA rocket exploded shortly after take-off from Virginia on Tuesday evening.
The 14-storey rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, was carrying a Cygnus spacecraft which was on a mission to supply some classified cryptographic equipment to the International Space Station (ISS).
The exact cause of the explosion is still not known.
Orbital Sciences said in a statement to a news agency: “We`ve confirmed that all personnel have been accounted for. We have no injuries in the operation today”.
Further, in another statement published on NASA website, William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate said: “While NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today, we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap. The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies”.
“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success. Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”
Virginia-based Orbital Sciences is one of two companies hired by NASA to fly cargo to the station after the space shuttles were retired. Tuesday’s planned flight was to be the third of eight under the company`s $1.9 billion contract with NASA.