An unmanned rocket operated by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contractor exploded moments after it launched from a facility in Virginia on Tuesday.

The rocket was destined for the International Space Station (ISS) and was carrying a range of supplies.


The launch was being overseen by Orbital Sciences, which has a NASA contract for supply missions to the ISS worth $1.9 billion. At a press conference on Tuesday night, officials said the spacecraft and supplies were worth more than $200 million, but they had yet to estimate additional monetary losses resulting from the accident.

NASA's Twitter account for the International Space Station said there had been an "Accident 6 seconds after @OrbitalSciences #Cygnus liftoff."

“A mishap occurred shortly after liftoff,” said a statement posted later on NASA’s online mission website. “Orbital has declared a contingency. NASA and Orbital are still determining when a press conference will be held.”

The rocket launch had been postponed a day to Tuesday, after a boat was found in the vicinity of the launch facility and could not move in time.

At Tuesday's press conference, officials said that government agencies and Orbital will contribute to the investigation into the incident.

President Obama was briefed on the explosion.

—This post was updated at 11:14 p.m.