Antares rocket fails astronomically

Kaitlyn Steinhiser, Feature Writer

On Tuesday, October 28, Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket exploded approximately six seconds after leaving the launch pad at Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.

Orbital Sciences is a U.S.-based company specializing in the design, manufacture and launch of small- and medium- class space and rocket systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket was supposed to travel to the International Space Station for NASA, but things obviously did not go as planned.

The rocket was supposed to deliver 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station. These supplies and experiments included 1,200 pounds of food and experiments from local schools. Luckily, none of these materials were needed immediately by the International Space Station, and all of the supplies can be easily replaced.

Orbital Sciences is also lucky that no one was killed or injured during the failed launch, and, thankfully, the rocket was unmanned.

However, the failed launch was quite a detriment Orbital Sciences, and the taxpayers of the United States. For example, each Orbital Sciences launch costs taxpayers 237 million dollars per launch. So, 237 million dollars went to waste.  As for the launch pad, Orbital Sciences representatives said that, “There is some evidence of damage to piping that runs between the fuel and commodity storage vessels and the launch mount, but no evidence of significant damage to either the storage vessels or launch mount.”  Debris is still strewn around the launch area and surrounding bay area and all are advised not to pick any of it up because it could be hazardous material.

The launch failed due to “decades-old Russian engines”, says Orbital Sciences Corp.’s CEO, David Thompson.  One of the two AJ26 main engines failed about fifteen seconds after ignition. The turbo pump in said engine caused it to fail. Fortunately, Orbital Sciences has taken the unreliability of these engines into consideration and will no longer be using them within their rockets. Hopefully this will prevent rockets from exploding in the future.

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