Life is full of rude awakenings: all systems not go for Antares launch

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2013-04-22

The Antares rocket on its launchpad at NASA Wallops.
Matthew R. Francis

As your reporter on the scene at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, I intended to file an account of the test launch of the Antares rocket today. However, as things happen, the launch was aborted at the T-minus twelve minute mark, when a cable connected to the rocket's second stage disconnected prematurely.

Not only was this the first test of Orbital Science's Antares rocket, it was also to be the first launch from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launchpad at Wallops. As Orbital spokesman Barry Boneski said shortly after the decision to abort the launch, that means it's expected for things to go wrong. The disconnected cable, known as an umbilical, is a relatively minor problem, especially compared with some spectacularly failed tests of the past.

Boneski declined to speculate why the cable disconnected before its proper time. As he noted, the wind speed at the launchpad reached 20 knots (23 miles per hour, or 27 kilometers per hour) at one point, which may have played a role. However, Orbital and NASA crews had not yet had time to investigate fully.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments