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Problem cancels moon rocket test firing in US

A mechanical failure forced a NASA contractor to call off the first test firing of the main part of NASA's powerful new moon rocket.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2009 11:24 IST

A mechanical failure forced a NASA contractor to call off the first test firing of the main part of NASA's powerful new moon rocket.

The test wasn't immediately rescheduled as officials scrambled to learn the root cause of the failure.

Alliant Techsystems Inc called off the rocket burn with just 20 seconds left on the countdown clock. Operators cited failure of a power unit that drives hydraulic tilt controls for the rocket's nozzle. The rocket was anchored to the ground in a horizontal position for the test.

It was a setback for a carefully staged, USD 75 million event that drew thousands of onlookers. Alliant hoped the routine test would prove the performance of a new program for space exploration that, like the test rocket, may not fly because of NASA budget problems.

There was no indication anything was wrong with the rocket itself, which packs 0.45 million kilograms of chemical propellant, enough to boost a 98-meter-long vehicle 58,000 meters into the atmosphere.

At a news conference in Utah, officials said the power unit for the nozzle controls, which steers a rocket in flight, was robbed of fuel, apparently because of a faulty valve.