Orbital Sciences begins accident investigation, recovery

It’s the morning after, and Orbital Sciences, NASA, the NTSB, and the FAA are trying to figure out what happened. (In the immortal words of Ben Ramsey, “I know what’s wrong with it, it’s broke!”)
launch-pad-looking-south-after-failure
First, thank God no one was hurt or killed. The damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island.
From today’s Orbital press release

The overall findings indicate the major elements of the launch complex infrastructure, such as the pad and fuel tanks, avoided serious damage, although some repairs will be necessary. However, until the facility is inspected in greater detail in the coming days, the full extent of necessary repairs or how long they will take to accomplish will not be known.

And from NASA’s press release

A number of support buildings in the immediate area have broken windows and imploded doors. A sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the pad, and buildings nearest the pad, suffered the most severe damage.
At Pad 0A the initial assessment showed damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning suppression rods, as well as debris around the pad.

The Monday morning quarterbacking around the coffeepot at work focused on the age of the Soviet AJ-26 engines, how they were stored, how long they were stored, and what was involved in refurbishing these engines. Broken turbine blade? Something couldn’t handle the vibration load? It could even be something used that was not compatible with LOX.
We shall see.

3 thoughts on “Orbital Sciences begins accident investigation, recovery”

  1. Damn, given the way she crashed and blowed up real good I would have figured the pad and the surroundings to be toast. Must be the azimuth program starts right at launch and gave the bird a few FPS in the direction of the ocean. Either that or a quick hand on the range safety handle turned the worst of it into an air burst instead of a ground burst.

    Replacing 2 lightning poles will be a dawdle. It’ll take more time to rake fresh beach sand over the burn marks.

  2. None of the cargo manifests I’ve seen have been very specific. Was there any Marshall hardware on board for ISS? Kathryn hadn’t heard.

    Bill

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