Experimental Rocket by Aerojet Rocketdyne Fails during Maiden Flight
Experimental Rocket by Aerojet Rocketdyne Fails during Maiden Flight

The US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base announced that an experimental rocket belonging to a new bred of expandable launchers has failed in its maiden flight on Tuesday.

As per officials, the rocket was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai at 7:45 pm Pacific Standard Time. The 67-foot-long rocket crashed within one minute of its flight.

The confirmation on the failure of the flight was given by the Missile Systems Center in a brief post Tuesday on its Facebook page. “The ORS-4 mission on an experimental Super Strypi launch vehicle failed in mid-flight after liftoff at 5:45 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (Tuesday) from the Pacific Missile Range Facility off Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. Additional information will be released as it becomes available”, the post read.

No comments from the center and Aerojet were received until late Wednesday afternoon. A Super-Strypi rocket is a low-cost, small satellite launcher. This three-stage rocket was developed in collaboration with the University of Hawaii.

So far, there is no clue about what led to the failure of the flight. Solirces familiar with the issue told that the rocket had several satellites on board.

Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. has recently reported a loss of $38.1 million quarterly. The company puts the blame of this loss on its launch pad explosion in October 2014, which forced Aerojet to pay a huge amount of $50 million in settlement to a key customer.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released last week found that none of the military's programs to demonstrate launch-on-need services is ready to move from development and testing into production.

Companies working on small satellite launchers include Virgin Group's Virgin Galactic, Firefly Space Systems, Rocket Labs, the Paul Allen-backed Stratolaunch Systems and Spain's zero2infinity.

While the loss was unfortunate, according to NASA Ames, there will be an opportunity to complete some of the objectives of the EDSN mission in a follow-on mission called Nodes. The Nodes satellites were also developed by the EDSN project team and they have a similar design. Two of the Nodes are scheduled for launch to the International Space Station in December and will be deployed later.

Last year’s explosion of an unmanned Orbital Antares rocket occurred a few seconds after liftoff on Oct. 28, 2014, from a NASA launchpad in Virginia. The rocket, powered by an Aerojet AJ-26 engine, was supposed to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. recently reported a $38.1 million quarterly loss, largely the result of a spectacular launch pad explosion in October 2014 that forced Aerojet to pay a hefty $50 million settlement to a key customer and prompted the end of a profitable supply contract.

October 2014’s explosion also happened a few seconds after liftoff from a NASA launchpad in Virginia.

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