© nasa General | October 29, 2014

Rocket for ISS explodes on lift-off

Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility did not go as planned. Shortly after lift-off the rocket suffered a catastrophic failure, luckily it was an unmanned flight.
According to NASA’s emergency operations officials, there were no casualties and property damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island. The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies.

“It is far too early to know the details of what happened,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Advanced Programs Group. “As we begin to gather information, our primary concern lies with the ongoing safety and security of those involved in our response and recovery operations. We will conduct a thorough investigation immediately to determine the cause of this failure and what steps can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident. As soon as we understand the cause we will begin the necessary work to return to flight to support our customers and the nation’s space program.”


The payload of the rocket consisted of several satellites and instruments, according to Spaceflight 101's cargo manifest for the Cygnus Orb-3 mission.

- The 'Meteor Composition Determination' payload consists of equipment for high-resolution imagery and video. The hardware would capture images and video of the Earth’s atmosphere and then processed by a software to identify bright spots. The Meteor Composition Determination was set to operate for two years inside the Window Observation Facility on the ISS. The goal of the project has been to study meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere.

- The REBR or Re-Entry Breakup Recorder consists of different sensors such as a GPS receiver, a temperature sensor, a rate gyros, pressure sensors, other unspecified electronics, an accelerometer, an Iridium modem and a combination GPS/Iridium antenna. The satellite would fall towards earth, call the Iridium Satellite fleet and transmit data about the re-entry-phase.

- A ”'flock' of 26 CubeSats was also on board, dedicated to Earth observations. The satellites would be able to generate high-resolution images of Earth. All of the satellites were designed, developed and manufactured by San Fransico-based Planet Labs. Those new satellites were supposed to replenish the low-orbiting segment of the current constellation.

- RACE, or Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment - is a 3U CubeSat mission. This is a joint project by the University of Texas in Austin and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The objective was to obtain measurements of atmospheric water. The RACE CubeSat bus was developed at the Satellite Design Laboratory at the University of Texas.

© Planetary Resources
- The rocket also contained the kickstarter project Arkyd from Planetary Resources. The Arkyd 3, also on board the crashed Cygnus, is a small scale satellite used for testing technology intended for the larger Arkyd-100 space telescope. The objective of 'Number 3' was to test avionics, sensors and actuators, propulsion and software. The ultimate goal of Planetary Resources is to – via version Arkyd 100 and Arkyd 300 – to prospect and mine asteroids.

The attempted liftoff of the Antares:


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