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Friday, October 31, 2014

Main engine anomaly suspected cause of Antares rocket explosion

(Reuters) - As Orbital Sciences picks up the pieces, literally and figuratively, after its high-profile rocket launch explosion, accident investigators are looking closely at a potential first-stage engine problem
Technical data relayed from Orbital’s Antares rocket before and after Tuesday’s liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia, show everything was fine until the rocket’s ascent stopped 15 seconds into the flight, the company said in a status report issued late Thursday...continue
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     After one of the refurbished AJ-26 Russian engines, (the first stage of the Antares uses two), exploded on the test stand back in May, one would venture to guess this would be the first place the investigation would center. Judging from the video, a catastrophic failure occurred in the aft section of the first stage seconds after lift off. With thousands of critical parts, anyone of which could malfunction, the task of finding the root cause of this accident could be a pain-staking process. Unless a glaring fault shows itself early, sifting through miles of data for a needle in a haystack is often the process in these events.