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US Manufacturer of Failed Antares Spacecraft Likely to Discontinue Using Russian Engine

RIA Novosti

20:05 05/11/2014

WASHINGTON, November 5 (RIA Novosti) – The US manufacturer of fallen unmanned cargo spacecraft Antares is likely to discontinue using the Russian rocket engine that it believes to be the cause of the vehicle launch crash in October, according to press release issued Wednesday.

'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,' the release by Orbital Sciences read. 'As a result, the use of these engines for the Antares vehicle likely will be discontinued.'

While the investigation into the crash is still underway, the company will continue the resupply contract with NASA and deliver all remaining cargo to the ISS by the end of 2016, according to the press-release.

'To maintain the CRS [Commercial Resupply Services] program's critical ISS supply line, Orbital plans an early introduction of its previously selected Antares propulsion system upgrade in 2016,' the release said.

The AJ-26 engine that Orbital currently uses to power Antares was designed in Russia to launch the country's rockets on lunar missions.

The Antares spacecraft was carrying more than two tons of cargo to the International Space Station when it crashed just six seconds after launching at NASA's Wallops flight facility in Virginia on October 29.

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