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Rocket headed for space station explodes after liftoff

"Tonight's events really show the difficulty that it takes for us to do this task of delivering cargo to the space station," said NASA's Bill Gerstenmaier.

By Aileen Graef

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- The unmanned commercial Antares rocket exploded shortly after launching from Wallops Island, Va. Tuesday night, lighting up the sky.

In the video of the explosion, launch technicians can be heard calling all systems normal, but about six seconds after launch the rocket exploded, causing a huge fire. No one was hurt. The rocket was supposed to take supplies to the International Space Station.

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The Antares rocket was built by Orbital Sciences, a private company based in Virginia. In statement on Twitter, the company said there was a "vehicle anomaly." Executives later expanded the statement to say, "The vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure."

"Tonight's events really show the difficulty that it takes for us to do this task of delivering cargo to the space station," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations.

NASA and Orbital said they will now work to find the cause of the explosion.

"What we know so far is pretty much what everybody saw on the video," said Frank Culbertson, general manager of Orbital's Advanced Programs Group. "The ascent stopped, there was some, let's say disassembly, of the first stage, and then it fell to Earth ... We don't really have any early indications of exactly what might have failed, and we need some time to look at that."

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SpaceX and Boeing are the other commercial companies contracted with NASA. They were chosen earlier this year to build the rockets to transport crews to and from the ISS.

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