The Antares, unmanned rocket, carrying supplies to the international space station exploded while taking off on Tuesday night. It was carrying 5,055 pounds of supplies, science equipment for experiments and was on schedule at 6:22 p.m. Eastern Standard time, launching from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Eastern Virginia.
No problems of any sort arose during countdown. However, six seconds later, an explosion occurred and the rocket fell back onto the launching pad.
No one was injured, yet the launch facilities seemed to have been damaged quite significantly.
NASA hired private companies to ferry supplies to the space station, and this was a third flight by the Orbital Sciences Corp. , having a total contract of $1.9 billion for eight such flights.
Another company, the SpaceX, has completed four mission of such nature quite effectively and successfully.
By hiring private companies, NASA hoped to curtail costs and create a new commercial space agency, and also has taken a similar approach towards launching its astronauts in the near future. However, this event is more than enough to raise questions that whether NASA has done enough to ensure the proper effectiveness and reliability of private corporations operating these rockets.