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Cause of Taurus launch failure identified
Posted: Thu, Nov 8, 2001, 10:31 AM ET (1531 GMT)
Taurus launch (Orbital file photo) Investigators believe a stuck steering mechanism caused the September 21 failure of a Taurus booster, the president of Orbital Sciences Corporation said Wednesday. According to reports by Space News and Spaceflight Now, Orbital president J.R. Thompson said that an actuator drive shaft seized up for about five seconds after the second stage of the Taurus ignited. The failure of the actuator, which controls the steering mechanism for the second stage engine, allowed the booster to veer off-course during this time, as seen in dramatic video footage of the launch. The actuator did start working again, allowing the Taurus to go back on course, but the rocket lost too much energy to be able to place its payload of two satellites into orbit. Investigators don't know why the actuator failed, but Thompson said that the actuator was being phased out and would not be used in future Taurus launches. There is currently only one Taurus mission on Orbital's manifest, the launch of Taiwan's ROCSAT-2 in 2003. Thompson made his comments during a scheduled conference call with investors and media to discuss Orbital's quarterly financial results.
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