Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Antares AJ-26 main engine failed earlier this year during Stennis testing

I find it very interesting that the engine that exploded during last night's Antares launch has had a checkered past including an explosion on one of the engine test stands back in May of this year at the NASA Stennis facility in Mississippi.

According to the story written by Chris Bergin at NASA on May 22, 2014, "One of the AJ-26 engines set to launch with a future Antares rocket has failed during testing at the Stennis Space Center on Thursday. Sources claim the engine “exploded” on a Stand located in the E Complex at the famous rocket facility. The failure is currently under evaluation, although it may delay the next Antares launch that is tasked with lofting the ORB-2 Cygnus to the International Space Station (ISS)."
What makes this story even more interesting is that the Antares launch vehicle’s main engine is the Aerojet produced AJ-26 – a rebuilt version of Soviet NK-33, originally intended for the massive N-1 launch vehicle.

The tanking for the Antares was contracted to the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau from the Ukraine. Yuzhnoye has extensive knowledge in producing kerosene rocket bodies as the producer of the Zenit launch vehicle.

You can read the complete story at

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Urgent: It's On -- KP1 Navassa Island in January

Watch the Project website at for more details.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has notified the KP1-5 Project that they will be the team to activate Navassa Island (KP1) in January 2015.
The DXpedition will be a maximum of fourteen days. The exact dates in January will be determined by USFWS mission requirements and weather windows.
Our experienced team of fifteen is complete and is ready for the challenge. The weeks ahead will be extremely busy as the team has less than 90 days before the DXpedition comes on the air.
January is the month of minimum bird nesting activity and this is the primary reason USFWS is asking that the operation be completed during that month. However, the weather is unpredictable in January and because Navassa is surrounded by cliffs, this may preclude a safe landing by boat.  For safety reasons and in order to maximize our time on the Island and on the air, a helicopter operation is planned. Navassa is over 100 miles (160 km) from the nearest helicopter staging point and as many as ten round trips will be required at the beginning and end of the operation. Obviously, this means that there will be a significant cost for activating this #1 ranked DXCC entity.
In the next few weeks, we be working with USFWS and as details firm up, we will issue periodic press releases. Check our webpage, the KP1-5 Project for more details of the operation and how you may financially support this DXpedition.
The KP1-5 Project team has committed to fund 50% of the total costs. We are hopeful the DX community will fund the remainder.
- for The KP1-5 Project,
Bob Allphin, K4UEE, President
Glenn Johnson, WØGJ, Vice-president
Mike Thomas, NA5U, Secretary

Update: It is almost that time of year again - CQ WW DX Contest time!

It is almost time for the CQ WW SSB DX Contest which kicks off on Saturday, October 25 at 0000 UTC and runs until Sunday, October 26 at 2359 UTC.

I fully plan to be in the contest this year looking for new countries to add to my DXCC totals. Might even work a state or two I need to finish off the ARRL Triple Play award I have been working on.

I also plan to have a presence during the CQ WW CW DX contest that starts on
Saturday, November 29 at 0000 UTC and concludes on Sunday, November 30 at 2359 UTC. I hope to finish out the countries I need for an ARRL CW DXCC award.
These are two of my favorite contest and are a lot of fun to participate in at any level. Several years ago I won 1st place in my category, but since I am on a country hunt, I won't be submitting a contest log for these two amateur radio contest.
Complete details can be found on the CQ World-Wide Contest website at

Late Breaking News from the ARRL Contest Newsletter:-

CQ Communications has reconsidered its initial policy on stations operating in Crimea for the CQ World Wide contest. Logs will be accepted and counted for the country indicated by the call sign of the station. This aligns CQ policy with DXCC policy. See the CQ website for complete details.
On a related topic, found this that was posted to the ARRL website on 17 Oct 2014:--

CQ Will Not Accept Logs from Stations in Crimea Using Russian-Issued Call Signs

CQ has announced that it will no longer accept logs for any CQ-sponsored contest from stations in Crimea operating with Russian-issued call signs. CQ Magazine said that “after considerable deliberation,” it has decided to follow the lead of the US government and the United Nations and will consider the embattled Crimea region to be a part of Ukraine, “until such time as the political situation there is resolved.” In addition, contacts made by others with Crimean stations using Russian-Issued call signs will be removed from contestants’ logs without penalty. “No contact or multiplier credits will be given,” the CQ announcement said.

“We fully realize that our action may very well disenfranchise several Crimean contesters who use Russian prefixes instead of Ukrainian prefixes,” CQ said. “As regrettable as that may be, our action is consistent with international law, as well as with our own rules.”

CQ sponsors several major international operating events, including the CQ World Wide SSB and CW contests. The first contest to be affected by the new policy would be the CQ World Wide SSB Contest, which takes place this year over the October 25-26 weekend.