NASA has played down the impact on the crew of the International Space Station following the explosion of a supply rocket shortly after take off from a commercial launch pad in Virginia.

The unmanned 14-story Antares was carrying a robotic Cygnus spacecraft manufactured by Orbital Sciences. It had been filled with nearly 2,300 kilos of food, water and other equipment for the ISS.

NASA ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini said even if the Antares could not do its job the ISS had plenty of supplies:

“We manage the station to protect for just such an event should it occur. So we keep logistics on board the ISSto protect us for 4-6 months in the event that other logistics vehicles cant make it to ISS. So in fact, our logistics on board today — if no other space craft show up — takes us well into next year.”

There have been no reports of injuries but the cause of the accident in Virginia is so far unknown.

In the meantime a Russian cargo ship is due to reach the space station on Wednesday after a launch from Kazakhstan.

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