It could take several weeks to determine why an unmanned Antares rocket exploded Oct. 28 and how such mishaps can be prevented in the future, according to an industry official.
Investigators must sift through debris caused by the explosion, as well as data from the rocket and video of the launch, said Frank Culbertson, executive vice president and general manager of the Advanced Programs Group at Orbital Sciences Corp., which built the rocket.
“We need a few weeks, I think, to evaluate the failure that occurred [and] start making some plans on how we will correct it and how long that might take,” Culbertson told reporters late Oct. 28.
The explosion occurred seconds after the rocket’s launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Antares and its Cygnus cargo capsule were supposed to deliver almost 5,000 pounds of science experiments, spare parts and other supplies to the International Space Station. It was to be the third of eight resupply flights Orbital conducts for NASA through 2016 under a $1.9 billion contract.
Despite the loss of the Antares, NASA officials said the space station has enough supplies to sustain the crew well into next year. A Russian Progress cargo ship arrived at the space station Oct. 29 with almost 6,000 pounds of food, fuel and other materials.