Image Credit & Copyright: Chris Simundson.
Tonight’s launch of Orbital Sciences Antares rocket carrying Cygnus S.S. Deke Slayton as part of Orb-3 mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) has ended in failure. Liftoff occurred at 22:22 UTC (18:22 EDT) and initial failure occurred at about T+15 seconds. At that time all lift ended and Antares crashed back to the launch pad at about T+24 seconds destroying the vehicle.
As far as the ISS they are in good shape with no imminent shortage of supplies at hand and with a Russian Progress ship launching this week as well as a SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle in December the ISS crew will be in no danger. As far as the Cygnus cargo, all was lost to include the Planetary Resources Arkyd-3 (A3) asteroid hunting space telescope and all ISS science missions and sustenance onboard.
There has been some focus on United States rockets such as the Atlas V utilizing Russian engines to power their first stages. As the Atlas V uses RD-180 1st stage engines, Orbital Sciences uses AJ26-62 engines to power their 1st stage. AJ26-62 engines are old NK-33 Soviet engines from the N1 Moon rockets which, I must add, never had a single successful flight. The AJ26-62 engines are refurbished by Aerojet-Rocketdyne. This is a glaring fact even though at this writing the actual facts of the Antares failure have not been confirmed.
Finally; it’s worth noting that the space industry is an impossibly difficult one. Failures and sometimes loss of life (which, fortunately did not happen here) does occur. When, not if, failures occur you can choose to pack it up and quit or learn all you can from it, use that information to make yourself better and push forward better for it. I for one have no doubt that Orbital Sciences and the Antares rocket will be flying again soon.
GO ORBITAL, GO ANTARES!!!
Orbital Sciences: https://www.orbital.com/
Antares Launch Vehicle: https://www.orbital.com/LaunchSystems/SpaceLaunchVehicles/Antares/
Antares User Guide: https://www.orbital.com/LaunchSystems/Publications/Antares_UsersGuide.pdf
Antares Fact Sheet: https://www.orbital.com/LaunchSystems/Publications/Antares_factsheet.pdf
Aerojet-Rocketdyne AJ26-62 Engines: http://www.rocket.com/aj26