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Orbital Sciences Statement on Antares Failure

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.


Orbital Sciences Corporation confirms that today’s Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was not successful. Shortly after lift-off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at 6:22 p.m. (EDT), the vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. According to NASA’s emergency operations officials, there were no casualties and property damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island. Orbital has formed an anomaly investigation board, which will work in close coordination with all appropriate government agencies, to determine the cause of today’s mishap.

“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.”

Orbital will provide more information as it becomes available and is verified.

Video of Antares Rocket Explosion


Antares Rocket Explodes, Destroys Cygnus Freighter


Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket exploded shortly after liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia. The explosion destroyed a Cygnus freighter carrying supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

The explosion reportedly occurred about 6 seconds after launch. There was a massive explosion and then the vehicle fell back onto the launch pad. The Antares engines were throttled up to 108 percent when the explosion occurred.

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

Launch officials have confirmed there were no injuries in the explosion. All personnel are safe and accounted for at this time.

The cargo manifest includes 26 Planet Labs satellites that would be launched off the space station. Planetary Resources also had its first test satellite aboard Cygnus. Thee were also a number of student experiments on the ship. NASA has the full manifest.

A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

A massive fireball occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

This mission was Orbital Sciences’ third contracted Cygnus cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station under an 8-flight contract. Two previous contracted Cygnus missions and a demonstration flight had succeeded.

This was the fifth flight of the Antares rocket. Four previous flights had been success.

Antares uses Arojet-Rocketdyne AJ-26 engines on its first stage. These are refurbished NK-33 engines originally designed for the Soviet manned lunar program in the 1970’s. There have been problems with corrosion on the 40-year old engines; one engine exploded on its test stand in May.

The rocket’s first-stage structure is built in Ukraine. Antares second stage consists of a solid-fuel rocket supplied by ATK.

My deepest sympathies to the Orbital Sciences team and all those with payloads aboard the vehicle. It’s a bad day, but these things happen in this field. This is the nature of this business.

UPDATE: Orbital and NASA officials will have a press conference at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT).

Vega Launch of ESA’s Experimental Space Plane Delayed


PARIS (ESA PR) — The Vega launch of ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, due on 18 November from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, has been postponed to allow for additional analyses of the Vega flight trajectory.

For this mission, instead of heading north into a polar orbit, as on previous flights, Vega will head eastwards to release the spaceplane into a suborbital path reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean to test new technologies for future autonomous controlled reentry for return missions.

Continue reading ‘Vega Launch of ESA’s Experimental Space Plane Delayed’

Atlas V Launch Set for Wednesday


GPSIIF8_Sticker_CROPPEDULA Mission Update

The Launch Readiness Review was completed on Monday in preparation for the Air Force’s GPS IIF-8 launch. The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 1:21 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Today’s L-2 forecast continues to show a 70 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 vehicle will deliver the GPS IIF-8 satellite to semi-synchronous circular orbit. Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.

The Navstar GPS is a constellation of satellites that provides navigation data to military and civilian users worldwide. The system is operated and controlled by the 50th Space Wing, located at Schriever Air Force Base, CO.

Continue reading ‘Atlas V Launch Set for Wednesday’

Midland, XCOR Celebrate Spaceport License


Officials from XCOR and Orbital Outfitters journeyed to Midland for a celebration of the FAA granting a spaceport license to Midland International Airport. This Tweet was the only official word out of XCOR about the celebration.

World View Enterprises Negotiating With Spaceport America


World View Capsule Balloon Space_131112
The Albuquerque Journal reports on negotiations between World View Enterprises and Spaceport America:

World View Enterprises Inc. of Tucson, Ariz., plans to send customers on balloon flights that climb 20 miles into the stratosphere, allowing passengers to view the earth’s curvature and the dark of space while wining and dining in a luxurious cabin with 360-degree views.

No decisions have been made, but the company is in negotiations with Spaceport executives to launch its balloons from southern New Mexico, starting in late 2016, said Chief Technology Officer Taber MacCallum.

“We hope to have a home base at the Spaceport,” MacCallum told the Journal. “It’s an amazing facility.”

The company expects to charge $75,000 for seats on a luxury capsule attached to a helium balloon. The capsule, which will carry six passengers and two pilots, will slowly ascend to 100,000 feet and then float in near space before returning to earth. The five-hour trip will include a meal and an open bar in the capsule, equipped with a lavatory and enough room for customers to walk around.

Antares Launch Reset for Tuesday Evening

Antares rocket on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Antares rocket on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Mission Update

The third Orbital Sciences cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch at 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

NASA Television coverage of Tuesday’s launch will begin at 5:30 p.m. A post-launch news conference will follow at approximately 8 p.m.

A Monday launch attempt was scrubbed because of a boat down range in the trajectory Orbital’s Antares rocket would have flown had it lifted off.

A Tuesday launch will result in the Cygnus spacecraft arriving at the space station early Sunday, Nov. 2. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and berthing will begin at 3:30 a.m. with grapple at approximately 4:58 a.m.

For the latest information on news conferences and coverage times, visit:

For more information about Orbital’s mission, visit:

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:

NanoRacks Finalist in Aviation Week’s Laureate Awards


avweek_laureate_awardsDear Friends and Customers of NanoRacks,

We are delighted (and surprised) that Aviation Week has included NanoRacks in some lofty company as a finalist in the 2015 Laureate Awards.

Included in the Space Category (see below) is the European Union, European Space Agency, India’s Space Research Organization and NanoRacks.

Industry recognition is the highest compliment, especially for a growing company like NanoRacks, so we wanted to share this much appreciated news with you.


The NanoRacks Team

This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, Oct. 27, , 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back MARK BRAY. Mark works on SLS as a NASA contractor in Huntsville . He is also an independent candidate running for congress. We want to explore the role of space in a political campaign. Is it an issue, even in Huntsville or do other issues significantly trump space.

2. Tuesday, Oct. 28 2014:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): No show as I am away on non-space business. I am playing a Golden Oldie from Space Show archives so check the website newsletter for details on this show and to see when it is available for listening.

3. Friday, Oct. 31:, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT): TBD. I may not be back so check the website newsletter to see if there is a live show today..

4. Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): TBD. Please check the website newsletter for details for this program.