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Photos: NASA's Orbital Sciences' unmanned Antares rocket exploded seconds after liftoff in Virginia

Outfitted with a more powerful engine, the Antares carried a Cygnus spacecraft packed with 2,293 kg of supplies.

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Updated:October 30, 2014, 11:31 AM IST
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Photos: NASA's Orbital Sciences' unmanned Antares rocket exploded seconds after liftoff in Virginia
Outfitted with a more powerful engine, the Antares carried a Cygnus spacecraft packed with 2,293 kg of supplies.

An unmanned Antares rocket exploded seconds after liftoff from a commercial launch pad in Virginia on Tuesday, marking the first accident since NASA turned to private operators to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, but officials said no one was hurt. The 14-story rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, blasted off its seaside launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility at 6:22 p.m. EDT/2222 GMT carrying a Cygnus cargo ship for the space station. It exploded in a huge fireball moments later.

Outfitted with a new, more powerful upper-stage engine, the Antares rocket launched on Tuesday carried a Cygnus spacecraft packed with 5,055 pounds (2,293 kg) of supplies, science experiments and equipment, a 15 percent increase over previous missions. In addition to food, supplies and equipment, the Cygnus spacecraft was loaded with more than 1,600 pounds (725 kg) of science experiments, including an investigation to chemically analyze meteors as they burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

The Orb-3 mission’s payload fairing (the casing around the spacecraft) is installed on Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket on the evening of October 23, 2014, at the Horizontal Integration Facility at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, as seen in this handout photo from NASA. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft on board, arrives at launch Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, in this October 24, 2014 handout photo provided by NASA. REUTERS/Joel Kowsky/NASA/Handout

The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A at sunrise at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, October 26, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/Joel Kowsky/Handout

An unmanned Antares rocket is seen exploding seconds after lift off from a commercial launch pad in this still image from NASA video at Wallops Island, Virginia October 28, 2014. REUTERS/NASA TV/Handout via Reuters

An unmanned Antares rocket is seen exploding seconds after lift off from a commercial launch pad in this still image from NASA video at Wallops Island, Virginia October 28, 2014. REUTERS/NASA TV/Handout via Reuters

An unmanned Antares rocket is seen exploding seconds after lift off from a commercial launch pad in this still image from NASA video at Wallops Island, Virginia October 28, 2014. REUTERS/NASA TV/Handout via Reuters

Spectators in Chincoteague, Va. watch the fireball from the explosion of the unmanned Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo capsule seconds after liftoff from Wallops Island, Va. on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. No injuries were reported following the first catastrophic launch in NASA’s commercial spaceflight effort. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Rich-Joseph Facun)


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