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Watch: Close-up camera footage of Antares rocket explosion released

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Posted at 9:33 AM, Nov 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-25 09:35:24-05

Wallops Island, Va. – Close-up footage from four cameras set close to the Antares rocket launch pad during last month’s explosion has been released – and the view is terrifying.

Video from the cameras was compiled into a single clip by AmericaSpace after the recordings were released after the Accident Investigation Board analyzed the footage in their investigation. The video from each camera runs at full speed, then is repeated in slow-motion in the clip.

Normally, photographers are allowed to recover remote cameras near a launch pad 1-3 hours after a successful launch.

Photojournalist Elliot Severn and his colleagues doubted their cameras had survived the blast, but were shocked to see them intact in aerial photos the next day.

 “The vehicle seemed to hang in the air and started to burn, it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It fell in a pillar of fire and exploded on impact, and we could feel the heat on our face from 1.5 miles away. Seconds later the shockwave hit, and we all ran for the buses to evacuate. We had little hope of any cameras surviving.”

“After returning home I saw the first aerial surveys of the launch pad, and we could see all of our cameras!” added Severn. “We waited several weeks to get everything back from the Accident Investigation Board, which was very frustrating, but it was well worth the wait.”

“I was totally stunned trying to comprehend what was happening because it was all so wrong, it seemed simultaneously to last for hours and mere moments,” said colleague Ken Kremer, who was covering the launch for Universe Today and AmericaSpace. “I knew as a scientist and journalist that I was watching a mounting disaster unfold before my eyes. I wasn’t scared – but definitely stunned beyond description, and I wondered for a moment if some dangerous debris was hurtling towards us. Thankfully, everyone got out safe and there were no injuries due to the excellent effort by our NASA escorts, who are trained for exactly these types of unexpected circumstances. Thank God no one was on board.”

Orbital Sciences says a failure in one of the two AJ26 main engines of the rocket is likely to blame for the blast. A full investigation of the accident will likely take months to complete.