Engine problems on new rocket delayed previous launch

Engine problems on new rocket delayed previous launch

WVEC-TV, Norfolk, Va.

An AJ26 engine at the payload processing facility at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — Problems with the engine that was used to power the Antares 130 rocket, which exploded during an attempted launch on Tuesday, delayed a previous launch scheduled for June.

The Antares 130 rocket was being used for the first time in Tuesday’s launch. The new rocket included bigger engines and added fuel capacity designed to give the rocket a larger payload.

The Antares rocket is designed and produced by Orbital Sciences Corporation, which has a contract with NASA to conduct eight re-supply missions for the International Space Station. Tuesday’s launch was to be the third such mission.

A failed test of the engine used on the Antares rocket, the AJ26, delayed the second re-supply mission scheduled for earlier this summer.

According to NASA, the engine failure happened in late May during a test at the Stennis Space Center. The engine that failed was not scheduled to be used until a 2015 mission but the failure prompted Orbital Sciences Corporation to delay all flights until it could conduct further testing.

Tuesday’s launch was the fifth total launch for Orbital Sciences Corporation but the first with the larger Antares 130 rocket, which NASA says was developed specifically to launch the Cygnus spacecraft.

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The Antares rocket was first launched in April 2013.

So far, NASA has not linked engine problems to Tuesday’s explosion.