Antares Commercial Rocket Destroyed in Devastating Fireball – Video

Article written: 29 Oct , 2014
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
by

NASA WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, VA – Barely a day ago I witnessed the sudden and utter destruction of an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket being consumed in a totally unexpected devastating fireball moments after blastoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia at 6:22 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, October 28.

See above my raw video footage of the catastrophic Orb-3 launch taken from the media viewing site at NASA Wallops located about 1.8 miles away from the beachside Launch Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops.

I was interviewed by NBC News and you can watch the entire story and see my Antares explosion photos featured at NBC Nightly News on Oct. 29 here.

The highly anticipated 1st night launch of Antares would have been visible to tens of millions up and down the eastern seaboard from South Carolina to Maine. Overall it was the 5th Antares launch.

The doomed mission was bound for the International Space Station (ISS) on a flight to bring up some 5000 pounds of (2200 kg) of science experiments, research instruments, crew provisions, spare parts, spacewalk and computer equipment and gear on the critical resupply mission dubbed Orb-3 bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

Listen closely as the sound gradually builds with Antares slowly lifting off from the pad to a deafening crescendo as it explodes violently and without warning followed by multiple blasts and detonations as the rockets breaks apart in a hail of dangerous debris.

You can clearly here the shocked voices of spectators disbelief, including my own, at was has just transpired.

Then you’ll see the see the ‘shock and awe’ as the sky lights on fire with the rockets catastrophic destruction and the camera shakes as the blasts shock wave zooms past us at the media site followed by a quick blast of noticeable heat.

Rapidly thereafter our NASA escorts ordered an immediate evacuation to protect everyone lives. There were no injuries.

Read my inside account of the days terrible events – here.

Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explodes intoan aerial fireball seconds after blastoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, on Oct. 28, 2014 at 6:22 p.m.  Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explodes intoan aerial fireball seconds after blastoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, on Oct. 28, 2014 at 6:22 p.m. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

It was the heaviest cargo load yet lofted by a Cygnus. Some 800 pounds additional cargo was loaded on board compared to earlier flights. That was enabled by using the more powerful ATK CASTOR 30XL engine to power the second stage for the first time.

A steady train of science experiments and supplies are required to continue operating the massive orbiting outpost and its six person crew.

Watch here for Ken’s onsite reporting direct from NASA Wallops.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explodes into an aerial fireball seconds after blastoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, on Oct. 28, 2014 at 6:22 p.m.  Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explodes into an aerial fireball seconds after blastoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, on Oct. 28, 2014 at 6:22 p.m. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

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4 Responses

  1. Member
    Tim Reyes says

    Surprisingly, NASA’s Gerstenmaier quickly added during the press conference that none of the supplies were critical to the Space Station. Later on, some statement said that a revision of the SpaceX Dragon manifest was underway. Some Oxygen supply was being replaced by the more urgent need for Nitrogen that was on board the doomed Antares.

    Listening to the NASA/OSC moderator giving the play-by-play of the Antares launch and performance, Antares had achieved full performance (108% — nominal) of its engines and conditions were “nominal”. Just a second or two later, the rocket exploded. Looking at past Antares launch video, the first seconds seemed nominal. Antares is not a launch vehicle that jumps off the pad and this one was loaded to capacity.

    My first thought was that a turbo-pump failed on the AJ-26 (modified Soviet era NK-33) engines. I always recall from a college friend who worked early on the Shuttle program, that NASA had thought that if there was to be a Shuttle mishap, it would likely be the fault of the turbo-pumps. The internal pressures and strain make these pumps vulnerable on any liquid fuel engine. Catastrophic failure of a pump is immediate and could explain the quick disintegration of Antares. We’ll soon learn from OSC what realy happened once they have reviewed all telemetry.

    • BCstargazer says

      I believe I heard them say during the press conference that the tanks were identical in size and that is was a “switch” that had no effect on the Dragon’s configuration unless the mass is different. I suppose the oxygen tank will be flown on the next Dragon.
      It will be very interesting to see if SpaceX decides to accelerate their launch schedule to pick up the slack.

      • Member

        That would make them (him ~ lol) not only appear confident in their continuing efforts and schedule, but also show they’re capable of picking up the ball and doing a mini-“Han Solo” last minute save. Not to mention bring in more capitol. Win-win-win for Dick and crew!

  2. anikaiful says

    So, the president of US lobbied one another explosion… so neatly arranged with his warmongering around the globe.

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