The NASA is reporting no injuries in the explosion of an unmanned Antares rocket that exploded seconds after liftoff from a commercial launch pad in Virginia today. The 14-story rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, bolted off its seaside launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility late this afternoon carrying a Cygnus cargo ship for the International Space Station. It exploded seconds later and the cause of the accident was not immediately known, said NASA mission commentator Dan Huot. US media described that flames could be seen shooting into the sky as the sun set. The cargo ship was loaded with five thousand pounds of gear for the six people living on the space station. The media report that Cygnus was to loiter in orbit until November second, then fly itself to the station so astronauts can use a robotic crane to snare the capsule and attach it to a berthing port. The station, a $100 billion research laboratory owned and operated by 15 nations, flies about 260 miles above Earth. It was the fourth Cygnus bound for the orbiting lab; the first flew just over a year ago. Reports also indicate this is the first disaster of its kind in the entire project. The planned flight for today was to be the third of eight under Orbital Sciences' $1.9 billion contract with NASA. Here is a report from CNN on the issue.
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