Earlier today, an Orbital Sciences Antares spacecraft exploded 7 seconds after lift-off in Virginia, USA. It was a NASA mission to resupply the ISS and hence was thankfully unmanned.
There are clear lessons to be drawn here for the spaceflight industry as a whole, including the “new kids on the block” forging a commercial space tourism market; spaceflight, whether sub-orbital or orbital, is risky. In this case, as the flight was unmanned, the attention on the incident has shifted rather interestingly onto the financial and logistical implications of the crash.
The ISS has sufficient supplies to last many more months, and other supply missions can be scheduled, but the engine powering the rocket had also recently failed during a ground test at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
The overarching concern here is that most spacecraft are constructed from components from all over the globe; the integration and testing of these components needs to be a safety-driven, safety-assured and well documented process so as to avoid such incidents occurring again.