A NASA rocket headed for the International Space Station exploded moments after lift off on Wednesday.

The unmanned 14-storey Antares supply ship blew up seconds after it launched from a commercial launch pad in Virginia.

Spectacular footage from a NASA TV broadcast shows the craft bolting off its seaside launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility, before hitting the ground and exploding in a ball of flames.

It was not immediately clear why the built and launched by Orbital Services exploded, but the firm confirmed no one was injured during the incident and damage appeared to be limited to the facilities.

Antares was intended to send a Orbital-3 Cygnus cargo ship loaded with 5,000lbs of supplies to the six people living on the space station.

The rocket was the fourth Cygnus bound for the orbiting lab, with the first flying just over a year ago.

NASA is paying the Virginia-based Orbital Sciences and the California-based SpaceX company to keep the space station stocked in the post-shuttle era. This is the first disaster in that effort.

GALLERY: Burnt out fire truck

premium_icon GALLERY: Burnt out fire truck

The RFS truck will probably be written off.

"Someone could have been injured or killed"

premium_icon "Someone could have been injured or killed"

An RFS crew sheltered in their truck as the grass fire overcame them

Local Partners