An investigation into last week's explosion of Orbital Sciences Corp.s' Antares rocket points to a likely problem with a turbo pump in the booster’s main engine, Orbital CEO David Thompson said Wednesday. The main engine of the rocket, which was carrying a robotic Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA, was a refurbished Soviet-era motor that Orbital said it expects to discontinue. The rocket exploded about 15 seconds after liftoff from Virginia on Oct. 28, destroying the Cygnus and its 5,000 pounds of cargo. No one was injured.
To fulfill its contract obligations to NASA, Orbital Sciences said it will buy rockets from an unnamed outside source to launch one or two Cygnus cargo ships. Meanwhile, the company will speed up plans to incorporate a new rocket engine into its Antares rocket, Thompson said during a conference call with investors and analysts.
- Hard Lesson: Rocket Blast Teaches Teens Cost of Discovery
- Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes: 1 Dead, 1 Injured
- Antares Explosion Puts NASA Policies Through Trial by Fire