A little over a year ago, NASA’s Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with a Cygnus spacecraft onboard, suffered a “catastrophic anomaly” just moments after launch. NASA has now released a stunning new set of previously unseen photos chronicling the disaster.

The uncrewed rocket was scheduled to make a cargo run to the International Space Station, but six seconds into the launch, it crashed back into the launch pad on Wallops Island in Virginia. It had been carrying more than 5,000 pounds of supplies, equipment, and scientific experiments.

Something went wrong soon after lift-off, causing the flight termination officer to trigger the self-destruct before the rocket hit the ground.

A pair of explosions decimated the rocket, the second one releasing the force of 200 tons of TNT.

The resulting explosion, though spectacular, caused no injuries.

The $15 million repairs to the Wallops Island launch facility were completed last month.

The new photos, which can be found at the NASA Flickr account, appeared yesterday without any explanation.

Last month, an investigation’s findings revealed no root cause for the Antares failure, though it could have been the result of one or a combination of three different technical causes.

On a positive note, the Cygnus spacecraft is back in rotation for cargo runs to the ISS. The cargo craft is expected to launch on an Atlas V rocket in December, while the Antares rocket continues safety upgrades.

[ Florida Today | HuffPo ]


Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him at @dvorsky. All images: NASA/Joel Kowsky