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Northrop Grumman’s new rocket ignition test ended up in an explosion

May 31, 2019, 12:36 am

On Thursday, Northrop Grumman conducted a full-scale static fire test of its first stage of OmegA. The company’s new rocket is in developing for national security missions that seem to have ended up in a small explosion. The company fired up the main engine of the rocket during a ground test in Utah. Everything was working fine until the end of the trial when parts of the vehicle’s engine burst apart, sending pieces of hardware flying.

It appears that everything worked very well. At the very end, when the engine was tailing off, we observed the aft exit cone, maybe a portion of it, doing something a little strange that we need to go further look into – Kent Rominger, capture lead for the OmegA launch system, and Northrop Grumman’s vice president

Company officials called it a successful test though something did go wrong near the end when sparks and burning debris were seen coming out of the nozzle, and it seemed to be an explosion. The ignition test lasted for a full 122 seconds, sending flames and plumes of gas out into the Utah desert.

The static fire produced a massive amount of more than two million pounds of thrust, which is roughly equivalent to that of eight-and-a-half jumbo jets; hence, such anomalies are common to occur.

Rominger also noted at the conference that anomalies like this one are the reason that companies test trial their rockets before the omega first stage static fire test is final take off. “We will go dig into this data and see what it tells us,” he said.

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