An unmanned cargo rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station exploded seconds after liftoff.
The Antares rocket, carrying 5,055 pounds of supplies, science experiments and equipment, lifted off on schedule at 6:22 p.m. from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia.
This Antares rocket carried a more powerful second-stage engine for the first time. The cargo spacecraft was to reach the space station on Sunday. The rocket was also carrying a satellite, also destroyed, for Planetary Resources, a start-up looking to develop technology for mining asteroids.
The Antares is the disposable launch vehicle for Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft, which was awarded a Commercial Orbital Transportation Services contract several years ago. The Antares has thus far made two successful launches as part of the NASA contract. The rocket is completely unmanned. About 5,000 pounds of supplies were aboard the Antares, along with several small cubesat satellites.