In response to the loss of the Antares rocket that lifted off at 6:22 p.m. EDT (2222 GMT) with its SS Deke Slayton, Cygnus, cargo craft, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the rocket’s manufacturer, Orbital Sciences Corporation, has issued a statement it will stop using Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AJ 26engine . The company did not stop there however. In an effort to fulfill its obligations under the $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract that the company has with NASA – it has announced that it will work to fulfill its obligations under CRS – by using a different launch vehicle to ferry Cygnus to orbit and to fly the remaining missions under the CRS contract – by 2016.
While the work of the AIB continues, preliminary evidence and analysis conducted to date points to a probable turbopump-related failure in one of the two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 stage one main engines. As a result, the use of these engines for the Antares vehicle likely will be discontinued.