The Antares Rocket Failure: So What's Wrong With 40-Year Old Russian Engines?

October 30, 2014 7:58 PM

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The Antares Rocket Failure: So What's Wrong With 40-Year Old Russian Engines?

The cause of Tuesday's Antares 130 launch failure is not known. The builder and owner of the rocket, Orbital ATK, will lead an investigation of the accident, and it will be assisted by NASA and the FAA. All that is known for sure at this point was tweeted by Orbital ATK: "There has been a vehicle anomaly. The vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure."

So what likely went wrong? Well, we know that the failure occurred 6-10 seconds after liftoff from Launch Pad-0A at the Mid-Atlantic Region Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. We know that the first stage of the Antares is powered by two AJ26 engines, which are fueled by liquid oxygen (LOX) and k...

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