Categories: Commercial Space

Launch Pad Damage Discernible in Aftermath of Catastrophic Antares Launch Failure – Exclusive Photos

Damage is visible to Launch Pad 0A following catastrophic failure of Orbital Sciences Antares rocket moments after liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, on Oct. 28, 2014, at 6:22 p.m. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
Story updated with link to Ken Kremer interview with NBC Nightly News[/caption]

NASA WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, VA – Some damage is clearly discernible to the Antares rocket launch pad in the aftermath of the sudden catastrophic explosion that completely consumed the rocket and its NASA contracted cargo just seconds after its liftoff NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Va, at 6:22 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, October 28.

From a public viewing area about two miles away, I captured some side views of the pad complex and surroundings.

Check out my before and after views of the launch pad to compare the scenery

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.

View of Orbital Sciences Antares rocket standing at Launch Pad 0A three hours prior to catastrophic failure following liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, on Oct. 28, 2014, at 6:22 p.m. Note all 4 lighting suppression rods intact. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

The aborted blastoff of the 14 story Antares rocket ended in a raging inferno that set the sky on fire in raging inferno starting barely 10 seconds after what appeared to be a normal liftoff.

Looking at the photos, its immediately apparent that two of the pads four lightning suppression rods have been blown away. Indeed in the photos one can see them being hurled away in the swirling inferno.

Close-up view reveal some damage to Antares transporter erector launcher and scorch mark at water deluge tower at Launch Pad 0A following catastrophic failure of Orbital Sciences Antares rocket moments after liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, on Oct. 28, 2014, at 6:22 p.m. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

There is also some noticeable damage to the transporter erector launcher used to move transport and raise the rocket to its vertical launch position.

The good news is that the launch ramp leading to the launch ramp leading to the launch mount is still intact. The giant water deluge tower is still standing.

The outer structure of the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) appears intact following the Antares launch failure on Oct. 28, 2014. Final assembly and processing of the Antares rocket and Cygnus module takes place inside the HIF. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

Likewise the processing facility where the Antares rocket undergoes final assembly and integration with the Cygnus cargo module appears to have escaped damage, at least on the two sides visible to me.

The outer structure of the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) appears intact with no significant harm following the launch failure. The HIF is located about 1 mile north of pad 0A.

The most severe damage was suffered by the nearby sounding rocket launcher with the entire side facing the pad blown away.

Sounding rocket launcher suffered severe damage as seen in this close-up view following catastrophic failure of Orbital Sciences Antares rocket moments after liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, on Oct. 28, 2014, at 6:22 p.m. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

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 violently and is consumed in a gigantic 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

Ken Kremer

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (KSC area,FL) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, FOX, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now, Science and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 80 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

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