WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. – AmericaSpace has released close-up video of last month’s Antares rocket explosion after it launch from Wallops Island, Virginia. This is the footage the Accident Investigation Board analyzed in an effort to determine what went wrong.
Photojournalist Elliot Severn and his colleagues doubted their cameras had survived the blast, but were shocked to see them intact in aerial photos the next day.
“The vehicle seemed to hang in the air and started to burn, it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It fell in a pillar of fire and exploded on impact, and we could feel the heat on our face from 1.5 miles away. Seconds later the shockwave hit, and we all ran for the buses to evacuate. We had little hope of any cameras surviving.”
“After returning home I saw the first aerial surveys of the launch pad, and we could see all of our cameras!” added Severn. “We waited several weeks to get everything back from the Accident Investigation Board, which was very frustrating, but it was well worth the wait.”
“I was totally stunned trying to comprehend what was happening because it was all so wrong, it seemed simultaneously to last for hours and mere moments,” said colleague Ken Kremer, who was covering the launch for Universe Today and AmericaSpace. “I knew as a scientist and journalist that I was watching a mounting disaster unfold before my eyes. I wasn’t scared – but definitely stunned beyond description, and I wondered for a moment if some dangerous debris was hurtling towards us. Thankfully, everyone got out safe and there were no injuries due to the excellent effort by our NASA escorts, who are trained for exactly these types of unexpected circumstances. Thank God no one was on board.”
A failure in one of the rocket’s two AJ26 main engines was likely to blame for the blast, according to Orbital Sciences. The investigation into the blast is expected to take months to complete.