Antares Hot Fire Test Complete; Launch Date Coming Soon - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Antares Hot Fire Test Complete; Launch Date Coming Soon

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New Antares rocket engine. (Photo: WBOC) New Antares rocket engine. (Photo: WBOC)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.- The hot fire test of the new Antares rocket engines was completed Tuesday at NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 

The test, which lasted about 30 seconds, tested the first stage of the engines in the rocket.  The engines were fired at 100 percent while the rocket was tied down on the launch pad.

The new engines in Antares are the Russian made RD-181.  Orbital ATK, the commercial space flight company that constructs the Antares rocket, made the switch to the new engines after the launch failure in October 2014.  That launch was Orbital's last launch with AJ-26 engines which were engines originally built by the Soviet Union in the 1960's and refurbished to fit the needs of the Antares rocket.

Just a few second after liftoff, there was a failure in the pump of the one the Antares engines that forced the termination of the launch.  The rocket came crashing back down to earth and caused about $15 million on damage to the launch pad on Wallops Island.

Over the past year and a half, all of the necessary repairs were made to the launch pad and Orbital and the Wallops Flight Facility are ready for a return to flight.  Now that the hot fire test is complete, an official launch date will be set in the near future.  Orbital officials said recently they were hoping to launch in early July.

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