My family and I were privileged to be among the people Orbital Sciences invited to NASA’s Wallops Island launch site in Virginia to view the launch of the Antares spacecraft on an ISS resupply mission. Unfortunately, that meant we were only 2 miles away (across open marsh) when it exploded just after liftoff.
I know it looks awful on TV. Close up it was horrific. The night sky turned into a 300 foot high, mile wide tsunami of flame. The shock wave from the explosion hit us with enough force to shake the bleachers. The smoke from the explosion was so toxic that we had to be quickly evacuated to safety.
To their credit, the Orbital and NASA folks handled all of that very well. But as one of the TV commentators said later, it’s another reminder that space travel is hard. My sympathies and support go out to the Orbital Sciences folks. I know what it’s like to go through what they’re experiencing today.
I’ve included a link below to a video from a Hampton Roads, Virginia TV News Station taken from near where we were watching. (Sit through the ads if they pop up; the video is worth it)
Copyright 2014 Dandelion Beach LLC. Images NASA, Video Copyright WVEC TV Hampton Roads, Virginia
Editor’s Note: We here at Amazing Stories are VERY happy that Jack & family suffered no ill effects. We’re also tickled pink that Jack was invited to the launch and hope to bring you more up-front and personal coverage of America’s space program in future.
Below, an image from the cover of F&SF (1954) magazine, depicting a scene not dissimilar to Jack’s ordeal…another video of the launch (including the evacuation) and images of the Antares rocket & Cygnus payload capsule.