And another angle:

This is genuinely terrifying and not for the faint of heart:

Twitter is responding with some pretty major pics:


Everyone's favorite astronaut Chris Hadfield weighed in with condolences and perspective:


While Slate's Bad Astronomer Phil Plait has some additional insights on what potentially went so wrong (with the major caveat that official info is still scarce at this time:


In a somewhat unbelievable twist, this was actually the second attempt for this particular mission. The launch was scheduled for yesterday, but a wayward "boat downrange in the hazard area" was cause enough to postpone. Thank goodness that no one was anywhere near the hazard area tonight.

Here is the full cargo manifest from NASA (via SpaceFlightInsider):

Science investigations: 1,602.8 lbs.
-U.S. science: 1,254.4 lbs
-International partner science: 348.3 lbs

Crew supplies: 1,649 lbs
-Equipment: 273.4 lbs
-Food: 1,360.3 lbs
-Flight prcedure books: 15.4 lbs

Vehicle hardware: 1,404.3 lbs
-U.S. hardware: 1,338.2 lbs
-JAXA hardware: 66.1 lbs

Spacewalk equipment: 145.5 lbs

Computer resources: 81.6 lbs
-Command and data handling equipment: 75 lbs
-Photopgraphy/TV equipment: 6.6 lbs


Orbital has now released a statement that confirms the "catastrophic failure," and claims that "property damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island." A newly formed anomaly investigation board will be following up to figure out what happened and how to make sure it doesn't happen again.