| 4.9°C Dublin

NASA rocket explodes on lift-off

An unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff in the US.

Debris fell in flames over the launch site in Virginia when the blast happened yesterday. No injuries were reported.

The accident sparked criticism over the space agency's growing reliance on private US companies in this post-shuttle era.

Nasa is paying billions of dollars to Orbital Sciences and the SpaceX company to make station deliveries, and is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start flying US astronauts to the orbiting lab as early as 2017.

The Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket blew up over the beachside launch complex at Wallops Island. The company said everyone at the site had been accounted for.

And nothing on the lost flight was urgently needed by the six people living on the 418km-high space station.

Orbital Sciences' executive vice president Frank Culbertson said things began to go wrong 10 to 12 seconds into the flight and it was all over in 20 seconds when what was left of the rocket came crashing down. He said staff sent a destruct signal before it hit the ground.