By Fiona MacDonald
The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket blasted off from Virginia in the US, yesterday, set to carry a range of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station (ISS). But just 15 seconds after launch the unmanned rocket exploded, and fell back onto the landing pad.
No one was hurt and the ISS has enough supplies to sustain its astronauts for almost six months, but sadly the rocket was carrying some pretty important scientific cargo.
“The greatest loss today has been the destruction of 18 student-led science projects into topics as diverse as how microgravity effects the growth of plants to milk spoiling in space,” said astronomer Alan Duffy from Swinburne University of Technology.
“I’m absolutely heart-broken for these students who have put so many months work into this.”
It’s also a tough day for Orbital Sciences Corporation, one of the three commercial partners that NASA has contracted to deliver supplies to the ISS. This was their third resupply mission for NASA. Their spacecraft alone was worth $200 million, which the company has admitted it had “some” insurance on.
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