Thursday, June 23, 2016

Atlas 5 Rocket to Return to Flight on June 24

United Launch Alliance says it has identified and resolved the problem on its most recent Atlas 5 launch, a March 22 flight for Orbital ATK that successfully delivered the unmanned Cygnus space station resupply vehicle to orbit.

In a statement June 15, the Denver-based company said an “unexpected shift in fuel pressure differential” across a mixture ratio control valve in the RD-180 engine, nearly four minutes after liftoff, caused the engine to run oxidizer-rich.

That depleted the supply of liquid oxygen and shut down the engine prematurely, even though there was still “significant fuel” left on the first stage. Atlas 5’s Centaur upper stage compensated for the first stage performance shortfall with an extended burn, delivering Cygnus to its intended orbit “well within the required accuracy.”

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