Explosions are not comfortable.
~ Yevgeny Zamyatin, Russian novelist
I know a few of you have already heard about last night’s big explosion of Orbital Science’s Antares rocket at Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Firstly, M and I are fine. We were, like many who were with us at the time of the explosion, a bit shook up (literally!), but no one was injured or killed, and for that, I am profoundly grateful.
The launch was cancelled on Monday due to a sailboat in the “mariner avoidance area.” The boat, I’ve heard, was 40 miles offshore and they were unable to make radio contact with the person or persons in the vessel (to ask them to move) so, for safety reasons, the launch was called off.
A note on the images: I’m not familiar with how to take photos of rocket launches. Having seen a few launches, I knew I didn’t want to blow out the images with the intense light. Everything happened so quickly that I didn’t have much time to make adjustments, but you still get an idea of what was going on.
M and I found a spot about two miles away from Wallops Island, on Oyster Bay. A lot of other folks are familiar with or had heard about the spot, too, because the place was crowded on Monday evening. Quite a few folks had driven five or six hours to see the launch. There weren’t quite as many people on Tuesday, but still a good crowd. The area is right on the bay and very muddy (marshy and mushy). We left there quite muddy on Monday, and got there prepared for the mud on Tuesday (as were many others judging by all the wellies on people’s feet).
The countdown proceeded on time last night, and there was a lot of excitement in the air, almost a party atmosphere. Quite a few children were present, and one small group of “kids” (maybe high school or college age?) were filming themselves with a tablet of some kind and taking photos as they talked about the experiment they were sending up with the rocket.
Everything looked pretty normal to us at first. Lots of smoke, the flames shooting out of the bottom of the rocket as expected.
I can’t even begin to speculate about what went wrong because, well, I’m no rocket scientist. Even NASA doesn’t have an official explanation just yet, and it will likely take them a while to figure it all out.
According to some of the news reports, the range-safety staff may have sent a destruct signal to the rocket to blow it up near the launch pad. The explosion happened six seconds after the launch. It seemed longer to me.
The rocket was to meet up with the International Space Station. It was carrying 5,000 pounds of cargo.
I honestly don’t remember taking the photos of the explosion.
In fact, I was in a bit of shock, not really sure what was happening. Thank goodness my valiant knight was there. He threw me to the ground, trying to protect me (and himself, of course) from the shock wave he knew was coming (and any debris that might be coming). And boy howdy! was it a shock wave! There’s a video here that will give you some idea of what we experienced. It looks to be taken from the same place we were located when the explosion happened, and I think it might even be the guy who was standing to the left and in front of us judging by what I can see in the video.
The sound, I’m told, was ear-poppingly loud. I didn’t hear it. M was providing ear protection by covering me. On the way home M commented that his ears were still ringing. He’s fine this morning.
There was a sheriff’s officer directing traffic when we came in on Monday and again on Tuesday. He came down to the beach/marsh area after the explosion and asked us all to evacuate the area quickly (which everyone did in a relatively calm — as calm as you can be after such an event — and orderly manner). No debris came our way during the explosion, thank goodness. Some of the children, and a few of the adults, were upset and in tears. I heard parents reassuring their children that everything was okay, and nobody was hurt.
I reckon that’s enough excitement for now. Thank you for visiting today. I will start working on the Walktober round-up post soon. I am looking forward to walking along with you. I’m sure it will be a much calmer experience.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be.