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Fire in Engine Doomed Orbital Rocket on Space Station Flight

Antares rocket explosion
Posted at 10:58 AM, Oct 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-30 10:58:00-04

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A fire and explosion in a rocket engine are being blamed for a botched commercial space station shipment last October.

NASA released an investigation report this week, a full year after the Virginia launch accident.

In an 11-page report, NASA's independent review team said the initial fire was caused by friction from rubbing parts in a liquid oxygen turbopump. The pump was in one of the old Russian-built engines of Orbital Sciences' unmanned Antares rocket.

The pump exploded seconds after liftoff, damaging a second engine. The rocket lost thrust and fell toward the ground. Launch controllers sent a destruct signal just before impact to minimize damage. Even so, the Wallops Island launch complex was ruined. Repairs continue, and the Antares remains grounded.

NASA says it's unclear why the pump failed.

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