Tags: destruct | system | rocket | launch

Destruct System on Rocket Triggered as Launch Wobbled

Image: Destruct System on Rocket Triggered as Launch Wobbled
In this handout from National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities is seen October 29, 2014 following the failed launch attempt, Wallops Island, Virginia. (Terry Zaperach/NASA/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 31 Oct 2014 12:02 PM

The Antares rocket that exploded upon launch in Virginia on Tuesday was destroyed intentionally when a problem occurred and it started to fall back to the ground, said a manger of the company that had hired out the rocket to NASA.

The Orbital Sciences commercial rocket exploded spectacularly shortly after takeoff at the Wallops Flight Facility. It was contracted by NASA to take a payload of supplies to the International Space Station and was carrying some 5,000 pounds of supplies, experiments and equipment, according to NBC News.

Orbital Sciences officials said in a preliminary review Thursday that while no problems appeared before launch, about 15 seconds after ignition "the vehicle lost its propulsive capability and fell back to the ground, impacting near, but not on, the launch pad."

Brad Scriber of National Geographic reported the rocket was destroyed by safety officers after they spotted the rocket deviating from its flight pattern and started falling back, sending a signal from the flight termination system to disable the rocket. Scriber wrote that safety officials made the correct call.

"If they make the wrong call either way, bad things can happen," Scriber wrote. "Destroy a rocket prematurely, and millions of dollars in equipment and research go up in flames unnecessarily. Allow a malfunctioning rocket to continue, and the lives of people near the launch site could be at risk."

"Tuesday night, I saw what happens when they make the right call. A 139-foot-tall Antares rocket malfunctioned shortly after takeoff, and was destroyed in a massive explosion at the launch site after safety officers sent a kill signal," Scriber wrote.

CNN reported that Orbital Sciences was continuing to investigate why the rocket malfunctioned with the assistance of NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"What we know so far is pretty much what everybody saw on the video," said Frank Culbertson, manager of Orbital Sciences. "The ascent stopped, there was some, let's say disassembly, of the first stage, and then it fell to Earth. We don't really have any early indications of exactly what might have failed, and we need some time to look at that."

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The Antares rocket that exploded in Virginia on Tuesday was destroyed intentionally when a problem occurred and it started to fall back to the ground, said a manger of the company that had hired out the rocket to NASA.
destruct, system, rocket, launch
376
2014-02-31
Friday, 31 Oct 2014 12:02 PM
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