STENNIS SPACE CENTER, MS (WLOX) - Officials with Aerojet Rocketdyne confirm to WLOX News that one of their AJ26 rocket engines failed during a hot-fire testing on Thursday at Stennis Space Center. Company officials said there were no injuries, and an investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the failure.
"I can confirm that during hot-fire testing yesterday at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Aerojet Rocketdyne's AJ26 engine experienced a test anomaly," Jessica Pieczonka, spokeswoman for Aerojet Rocketdyne told media outlets, including The Sun Herald.
According to nasaspaceflight.com, the engine experienced a failure midway through the test firing, and some sources claim the engine actually exploded. The website says the condition of the test stand following the failure is unknown.
"Over the next several days, engineering teams from Aerojet and Orbital will gather and examine the data collected from the test to determine the cause of the failure," a statement to media outlets said. "This engine was slated for the Antares flight scheduled for early 2015. It is not known at this time whether this incident will have any effect on the upcoming Antares launch scheduled for early June 2014."
The AJ26 rocket is used to power the Antares rocket that is used in resupply missions to the International Space Station.
According to nasaspaceflight.com, an AJ26 engine failed during a test in June 2011 due to a kerosene fuel tank leak in an engine manifold. The engine was later retested successfully after improved inspection protocols had been implemented.