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Nov 05 2014

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Orbital Sciences announces CRS “go forward” plan

They’ll accelerate their engine improvement plan. All CRS launches will be completed by then end of 2016 as planned, with no cost increase to NASA and only minor changes to cargo manifests.

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.

To maintain the CRS program’s critical ISS supply line, Orbital plans an early introduction of its previously selected Antares propulsion system upgrade in 2016. This will be preceded by one or two non-Antares launches of the company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS in 2015-2016, employing the spacecraft’s compatibility with various launch vehicles and its flexibility to accommodate heavier cargo loads as launcher capacity permits. In addition, the company expects repairs to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launch complex at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to be undertaken quickly, allowing launch operations to continue at Wallops Island with the upgraded Antares beginning in 2016.

So it looks like the AJ-26 rocket was indeed the cause of the failure. I wonder which launch vehicles they’ll use in the meantime.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2014/11/05/orbital-sciences-announces-crs-go-forward-plan/

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