John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A pilot in a small aircraft captured this unreal footage of last night's "catastrophic anomaly."
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