US supply rocket mishap ? crew at ISS in no danger, says NASA

NASA Antares 2910Washington (ISJ) ? NASA said, the crew of International Space Station (ISS) is 'in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies' following the crash of the third resupply mission rocket. The unmanned Antares rocket built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp carrying cargo spacecraft for ISS from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia exploded moments after its launch at 6.22 pm local time on Tuesday (Oct 28).

"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," said William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Directorate in a statement. "Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success."

Gerstenmaier said, the crash will not deter NASA from its work to expand its capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station. "Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback," he added.

NASA officials said damage on the ground appeared limited to the Virginia-owned launch facility, but its full extent was not immediately known.

"No injuries in the safety zone ? inflight or on ground. All we lost was the hardware," said Frank Culbertson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Defence Programmes at Orbital Science addressing a news conference immediately after the mishap alongwith NASA officials. He said, the rocket and the cargo ship it carried were valued at 200 million US dollars. Antares rocket was carrying 5,000 pounds of NASA cargo aboard Cygnus spacecraft.

"We need to go through this investigation and be very thorough before we determine whether that's a factor in this or not," Culbertson added. "We will not fly until we understand the root cause and the corrective action to make sure this doesn't happen again."

The Antares rocket has been launched successfully on four previous missions. A Monday launch attempt was delayed by a day because a boat was inside the range safety zone southwest of the launch pad.

NASA hired two companies - Virginia-based Orbital Sciences and Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX to fly cargo to the station after the space shuttles were retired. Tuesday's planned flight was to be the third of eight under a $1.9 billion contract by Orbital with the US space agency.

Sources: NASA

Image courtesy: NASA

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