A little over one year ago, on October 28th 2014, NASA tried to launch the Antares rocket by Orbital Sciences (now known as Orbital ATK) in an attempt to re-supply the International Space Station. Unfortunately, the rocket exploded just seconds after lift off. On the bright side, it was an un-manned rocket, so no one died in the explosion.
NASA reports that the catastrophe occurred because of a problem with one of the liquid oxygen turbopumps in one of the rocket’s main engines, which is what fueled the large explosion and brought the rocket to its demise.
“Based on this analysis, the IRT determined that the proximate cause of the Antares launch vehicle failure was an explosion within the AJ26 rocket engine installed in the Main Engine 1 position.” NASA explained in an official statement. “Specifically, there was an explosion in the E15 Liquid Oxygen (LO2) turbopump, which then damaged the AJ26 rocket engine designated E16 installed in the Main Engine 2 position. The explosion caused the engines to lose thrust, and the launch vehicle fell back to Earth and impacted the ground, resulting in total destruction of the vehicle and its cargo.”
NASA is remembering the one-year anniversary of the event by sharing some high quality photographs of the explosion that were taken right after the lift off. The photographs have been published on the agency’s Flickr page.
Below, you can see some of the HD photographs that NASA included in the release:
The rocket was huge, and since it didn’t get too far after exploding, it came right back down on the launch site, engulfing it in flames and smoke and destroying much of it.
You can watch the full launch, as well as the fall, of the Antares rocket in the video below: