DULLES, Va., 31 Oct. 2014. Shortly after lift-off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A in Virginia at 6:22 p.m. (EDT), an Orbital Sciences Corp. (NYSE:ORB) Antares space launch vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. No casualties were incurred and property damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island, but the launch vehicle, onboard spacecraft, and hosted payloads went up in flames.
Orbital officials have formed an anomaly investigation board, which will work in close coordination with all appropriate government agencies, to determine the cause of the mishap.
Officials of the space technology company confirm that the fifth and latest Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was not successful.
“It is far too early to know the details of what happened,” says 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 develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military, and civil government customers. The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific, and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to government agencies and laboratories.