A pilot in a small aircraft captured this unreal footage of last night's "catastrophic anomaly."

AP/NASA TV

Many cameras were trained on the unmanned Antares rocket last evening when it suffered what NASA calls a "catastrophic anomaly." But few of them were located in the humming cockpit of a small airplane, looking down as the $200 million, fuel-packed projectile went off like an atom bomb.

Pilot Ed Sealing was up among the clouds in Virginia, and the footage he captured is unreal (and accompanied, somehow, only with the mildest of profanity). He writes on YouTube: "I took this video of the very unfortunate Orbital Sciences rocket explosion on my iPad Mini. Video was taken in our Cessna 177 Cardinal from an altitude of 3,000 ft."

The rocket was on its way to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Its manufacturer issued this statement last night:

Orbital Sciences Corporation confirms that today’s Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was not successful. Shortly after lift-off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at 6:22 p.m. (EDT), the vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. According to NASA’s emergency operations officials, there were no casualties and property damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island. Orbital has formed an anomaly investigation board, which will work in close coordination with all appropriate government agencies, to determine the cause of today’s mishap.

H/t Patrick Witty

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. An illustration of the Memorial Day flood in Ellicott City, Maryland.
    Environment

    In a Town Shaped by Water, the River Is Winning

    Storms supercharged by climate change pose a dire threat to river towns. After two catastrophic floods, tiny Ellicott City faces a critical decision: Rebuild, or retreat?

  2. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  3. Design

    Bringing New Life to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lost Designs

    “I would love to model all of Wright's work, but it is immense,” says architect David Romero. “I do not know if during all my life I will have time.”

  4. Maps

    Visualizing the Hidden ‘Logic’ of Cities

    Some cities’ roads follow regimented grids. Others twist and turn. See it all on one chart.

  5. Transportation

    CityLab University: Induced Demand

    When traffic-clogged highways are expanded, new drivers quickly materialize to fill them. What gives? Here’s how “induced demand” works.