NASA unveiled the results of its own investigation of the Antares tragedy that occurred at the beginning of October 2014. Its main premise, the Agency has called the blast of the rocket engine AJ-26.
This unit was produced in the Soviet Union as NK-33 for the lunar program, was subjected to pre-validation, and scientific-technical changes in the United States. This explains the NASA web site.
Firm Orbital ATK after the explosion of the Antares rocket launched her own investigation appeared abnormal situation. NASA decided to organize an independent Commission to clarify the circumstances of the incident. The Commission included 12 people and 31 additional worker, which from November 2014 to October 2015 studied the causes of the incident.
Specific cause of failure of the Antares explosion is named in rocket engine AJ-26. NASA's own report called the 3 most probable causes of the explosion of the former Russian unit. Each of them or their combination could lead to tragedy.
The 1st reason is the poor reliability of the turbopump Assembly of the apparatus designed for supplying liquid rocket fuel to the engine. The AJ-26 in the Russian Federation (NK-33) and turbo-pump unit are not subjected to adequate inspection and acceptance could not withstand the loads.
2 a basis is called a turbopump unit clogging by foreign particles (containing titanium and silica). The 3rd version attributes the cause of the tragedy is the damage in the bearing turbopump unit (hole in it). All conclusions NASA technical results contain 6 and 7 related tips.
Firm Orbital ATK to this day continues to investigate the circumstances of the tragedy Antares. Conclusions NASA are generally consistent with previously announced results of the other expert groups. The Agency intends to continue working with Orbital ATK. So, at the end of 2015 to the International space station will launch its Cygnus.
The start and the following ones will be done by means of rockets Atlas V company ULA (United Launch Alliance). In 2016 will end the regeneration of the spaceport on the island wallops flight facility in Virginia, injured in the explosion of the Antares rocket. On the same day the company Orbital ATK has a view to restore the media starts Antares.
Instead of motors AJ-26 American firm plans to install Russian units RD-181. They are manufactured in Khimki company Energomash. The agreement between the Russian and American sides price 1 billion dollars, concluded in early January 2015, and anticipates delivery in the United States 60 domestic engines RD-181.
On the evening of October 28, 2014 (in Moscow occurred on October 29) Antares rocket a few seconds after launch exploded. She was supposed to deliver to orbit cargo ship Cygnus with food and scientific equipment designed for astronauts in the ISS.
Antares were established at Samara modified engines NK-33 (AJ-26 in the American form), and its main structure (the system of fuel supply and related equipment) produced at the Dnepropetrovsk "Yuzhmash" under the control of CB "South" and several other Ukrainian companies.
The NK-33 was intended for the Russian lunar program. By the end of 1960-ies Kuybyshevskiy company produced several 10-s of engines NK-33. They remained unclaimed and sent to the warehouse. After 30 years they found use, in particular in the Antares.
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