ISS supply rocket explodes on launch

A Nasa rocket heading for the International Space Station has blown up six seconds after liftoff from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia.

The Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket was on its third resupply mission to the ISS. It was unmanned and no casualties have been reported.

It appears one of the main engines exploded. Nasa mission commentator Dan Huot said it was not known what caused the accident.

Nasa said the Orbital Sciences team was executing its contingency procedures, securing the site and data, including all telemetry from the Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus spacecraft.

Orbital Sciences has a $1.9 billion contract with Nasa to provide the launch vehicle and cargo spacecraft while Nasa runs the operations.

The Antares rocket was carrying 2033 kg of equipment to the station including 617 kg of food. But Nasa said nothing was urgently needed and a Russian supply mission was due soon.

The rocket was due to launch on Monday night, but that was cancelled due to safety concerns when a boat approached too close to the launch site.

Nasa said it would hold a news conference to provide updates as soon as possible.

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