Taurus II’s AJ-26 Engine Badly Damaged During Test Firing

The Taurus II first stage core at Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Space News’ Brian Berger has posted a couple of Tweets on the recent testing mishap for Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Taurus II AJ-26 engine:


> Orbital is acknowledging one of the Taurus 2’s AJ26 engines was badly damaged June 9 when leaking RP caught fire.

> Has #orbital said how the fire will impact Taurus 2 demo by EOY ’11? It’s possible. Depends on whether test stand or engine is to blame.

The first Taurus II test flight is schedule for early October. If all goes well, OSC will fly the first Cygnus freighter on a flight in December. If that test goes well, OSC will begin delivering cargo to the International Space Station in 2012.

Stay tuned for updates. Same bat blog. Probably a different bat time….

Bat Update: Via Aviation Week:

“There was significant damage to the engine,” Orbital spokesman Baron Beneski said June 21.

Beneski and Glenn Mahone, a spokesman for Aerojet, say the AJ26 engine shut down prematurely after a fuel leak developed during a hot-fire acceptance test, and the leaking kerosene fuel ignited. While the engine was damaged, the test stand at Stennis Space Center suffered only minor damage, the spokesmen said in separate telephone interviews.

Mahone says a team of rocket engine experts from Aerojet, Orbital and NASA is investigating the cause of the mishap and the extent of the damage to the engine.

“How much we’re not sure,” Mahone says. “There is an investigation going on. The engine did not burn up.”

The results of the investigation and prognosis for the engine and the Taurus II should come together by the end of this week or early next week, Beneski says. Two other AJ26 engines have completed hot-fire acceptance testing without mishap, according to the Aerojet website.