In case you missed it, NASA conducted the most magnificent fireworks display of this year. Seriously though, the launch of the Antares was highly unsuccessful, sending fireballs sky high and beyond. NASA took a hit on October 28th, with the loss of an Orbital Sciences Rocket. Fire plumes, trailing the entire length of the rocket proved to be the death of the mission. This was a fireworks show to remember, but an unfortunate turn of events for NASA. Not to worry, the mission will be re-launched very soon-we are sure of that!
The mission was simple. Carry supplies, providing over 5.000 pounds of food, supplies and scientific experiments, to the orbiting space station. It was just a routine cargo flight that would contribute to the exploration of space, and one of three cargo flights in this year. This was not the first attempt of this particular mission. Antares was scheduled to launch on Monday but was postponed by a boat traveling too close to the launch site, well within the unsafe zones of the launch area. This second launch attempt was also unsuccessful, apparently, and very costly.
Antares, the cargo rocket, left NASA’s Wallop’s flight facility in Virginia at 6:22 p.m., crashing down into a flaming pile of rubble just shortly thereafter. Although there were no fatalities with the incident, we want to know why this happened.
Before the rocket ever left the Launchpad, many, observing, noticed that something was wrong. One person who had a clear view of the spectacle, Robert Pearlman, editor of the Space History News Website, says the rocket was doomed from the beginning. He told Space.com, “As the vehicle was launched off the pad, there was something coming from the base of the rocket. A fireball traveled from the base of the rocket to the tip, then an explosion ensued”.
Pearlman stated that when the rocket cleared the top of the water tower, it broke apart, the boosters failed and a large explosion sent parts in all directions. The remainder of the rocket then fell back to the earth creating an even larger explosion. Sadly, the mission was over before it ever began.
Although these attempts may have failed, NASA has seen great potential in this year’s cargo flights. Considering last year’s two attempts were successful, it stands to reason that making these trips are worthwhile. There are, at least 6 more cargo trips scheduled for this year, including a robotics mission by SpaceX using the Dragon Capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket. We await the success of these missions and the fulfillment of space exploration in 2014.