Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Antares AJ-26 main engine failed earlier this year during Stennis testing

I find it very interesting that the engine that exploded during last night's Antares launch has had a checkered past including an explosion on one of the engine test stands back in May of this year at the NASA Stennis facility in Mississippi.

According to the story written by Chris Bergin at NASA on May 22, 2014, "One of the AJ-26 engines set to launch with a future Antares rocket has failed during testing at the Stennis Space Center on Thursday. Sources claim the engine “exploded” on a Stand located in the E Complex at the famous rocket facility. The failure is currently under evaluation, although it may delay the next Antares launch that is tasked with lofting the ORB-2 Cygnus to the International Space Station (ISS)."
What makes this story even more interesting is that the Antares launch vehicle’s main engine is the Aerojet produced AJ-26 – a rebuilt version of Soviet NK-33, originally intended for the massive N-1 launch vehicle.

The tanking for the Antares was contracted to the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau from the Ukraine. Yuzhnoye has extensive knowledge in producing kerosene rocket bodies as the producer of the Zenit launch vehicle.

You can read the complete story at