US probes unmanned supply rocket explosion

Cape Canaveral, Florida

AUTHORITIES on Wednesday started investigating what caused an unmanned US supply rocket to explode in a fireball moments after lift-off from a Virginia launch pad, destroying cargo and equipment bound for the International Space Station.

The 14-storey Antares rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, blasted off from the Nasa Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island at 6.22pm on Tuesday, but burst into flames moments later. It was the first disaster since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) turned to private operators to fly cargo to the space station.

While no one was hurt, witnesses said that the explosion looked like a "ball of fire" and...

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