Speed Reads


Unmanned rocket with cargo bound for the International Space Station explodes after liftoff

Just seconds after launching Tuesday night, an Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus cargo ship exploded following liftoff from Virginia's Wallops Flight Facility.

The 14-story rocket was unmanned, and was set to deliver the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station. The rocket was built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp. The company released a statement saying it "confirmed that all personnel have been accounted for. We have no injuries in the operation today."

This was the first accident to happen after NASA started using private operators to deliver cargo to the ISS, Reuters reports. The Cygnus was filled with more than 5,000 pounds of supplies and equipment, weighing 15 percent more than during previous missions. The plan was for the Cygnus to linger in orbit until Nov. 2, then fly to the space station, where the astronauts would use a crane to capture the spacecraft and attach it to a berthing port.

NASA mission commentator Dan Huot said that as of now, it's not known what caused the explosion. The launch was originally supposed to occur on Monday, but was delayed when a boat sailed into a restricted zone under the rocket's intended flight path. Watch a video of the launch below. --Catherine Garcia