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Wallops IslandFollowing the explosion of the Orbital Sciences Antares 130 rocket carrying the Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS on October 28, 2014, we were left with far more questions than answers.  As the clean-up effort progresses and investigation begins, we’re starting to get information, slowly.

The fires are all out, and debris is being collected. While most of the debris fell on and immediately around Wallops Island, some pieces have been found on Chincoteague Island, nearly four and a half miles away. NASA continues to caution people not to touch any debris they may find, but to contact their response team at 757-824-1295.  So far, they say, they’ve had reports of about 25 pieces of debris, ranging in size from that of a postage stamp, to the size of a piece of paper.

Orbital Sciences, who are leading the investigation, released an update statement. “Based on initial sweeps conducted by an Orbital safety team, it appears a significant amount of debris remains on the site and it is likely substantial hardware evidence will be available to aid in determining root cause of the Antares launch failure … An Orbital-led team has begun cataloging and documenting the location of all pieces of debris over the next several days after which the debris will be relocated to storage bays on the island for further evaluation.

“Some of the Cygnus cargo has also been found and will be retrieved as soon as we have clearance to do so to see if any survived intact.

“After up close visual inspections by the safety team, it still appears the launch site itself avoided major damage. There is some evidence of damage to piping that runs between the fuel and commodity storage vessels and the launch mount, but no evidence of significant damage to either the storage vessels or launch mount. Detailed evaluations by MARS and their engineering team will occur in the next couple of days.”

Orbital Sciences vice president of communications, Barron Beneski, also confirmed this morning in an email to CNN that the flight termination system on the Antares rocket was engaged; the rocket was intentionally detonated by an official at the Wallops Range Control Center in order to prevent it crashing into a populated area.

We’ll keep you up to date as more information is available.

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