Last-Minute Ares Test Cancellation Caused by Faulty Hydraulic Valve
[Satellite TODAY 08-31-09] Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) delayed a test firing on Thursday for NASA’s Ares launch vehicle due to a mechanical failure, NASA announced Aug. 27.
NASA noted that a power unit, which drives hydraulic tilt controls for the rocket’s nozzle, had failed, causing the test to be cancelled with 20 seconds left in the countdown. Officials said the power unit was drained of fuel from a faulty valve and that mission control would not have been able to test the agility of the rocket nozzle under the conditions.
NASA and ATK said they were uncertain if there was anything wrong with the rocket itself and have not rescheduled the test. However, NASA said it will investigate the failure and decide whether to proceed with the Ares launch, scheduled for Aug. 28 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
The $75 million Ares rocket is part of an initiative that was formed under President George W. Bush to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020 and eventually, Mars. President Barack Obama has kept the program intact but has demanded a progress report from NASA by the end of August.
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