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  Antares rocket explodes at launchOct 29, 2014 8:26 AM PDT | url
Added 1 new A* page:Got to work out how to do "dark" in this unvarnished watercolor scheme, 'cause we're going into some pretty low-light areas in this episode.
I've been putting unused sketches for the past few A* pages up on my Instagram; some also get cross-posted to my Twitter and my tumblr.
The big space news today was Unmanned US rocket Antares explodes during launch (BBC); the Antares rockets are made by Orbital Sciences Corp., one of two private companies who won huge contracts from NASA as part of its process of commercializing the US space industry. Interestingly, though, the Antares uses refurbished engines from the Soviet N1 moon rocket program, which I guess means they were some of the 150 or so engines built by the Soviets in the late '60s as part of an effort to get a manned mission to the moon, competing with the American Saturn V moon rocket. If you're wondering why you haven't heard of the N1 program, it's because all four test launches failed, three ending in explosions—the second having the force of 7 kilotons of TNT, still the record for the most powerful non-nuclear man-made explosion—so perhaps this Antares launch explosion is not all that surprising; the N1 engines have very complex arrangements of fuel and oxidizer piping, which was seen as a weak point back in the old Space Race days.
UPDATE 10/30: A follow-up article mentions that the rocket's self-destruct was deliberately triggered by a ground controller after it was clear that "a major, yet-unidentified failure occurred 15 seconds into the flight."
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