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US spacecraft explodes shortly after launch

Xinhua, October 29, 2014 Adjust font size:



The video grab image from NASA TV shows an spaceship explode over the launch complex at Wallops Island, the United States, Oct. 28, 2014. An unmanned spaceship operated by private U.S. firm Orbital Sciences Corp. blasted off Tuesday for its third cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), NASA TV showed. (Xinhua) 

An unmanned rocket operated by private U.S. firm Orbital Sciences Corp. exploded Tuesday seconds after its launch, NASA TV showed.

The Antares rocket carrying the company's Cygnus spacecraft blew up six seconds after its liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT (2222 GMT) from U.S. space agency NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia.

"There has been a vehicle anomaly. We will update as soon as we are able," Orbital tweeted.

TV footage showed flames rising into the sky. The cause of the explosion remains unclear.

No injuries have been reported, NASA said, adding all personnel around the Wallops Flight Facility launch site have been accounted for.

It was believed that the damage was only limited to the facilities.

Cygnus is carrying 5,050 pounds (2,290 kilograms) of supplies for its third cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

One of the new experiments on board is the so-called Drain Brain investigation, a study that will try to determine how blood flows from the brain down to the heart in the absence of gravity.

Also on board is a device called the Meteor Composition Determination (Meteor), which will enable the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth's atmosphere.

The mission also includes a multitude of student research.

The rocket was originally set to launch Monday, but a boat which sailed into the restricted launch area caused NASA to postpone it until Tuesday.

This mission is the third of eight Orbital flights NASA contracted with the company to resupply the space station, and the fourth trip by Antares and Cygnus to the orbiting laboratory.

Besides Orbital, NASA has also signed a deal with another private company called SpaceX to supply cargo to the space station.

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