Space

April 25, 2012

Orbital Sciences’ Antares passes fit check

by Raphael Jaffe
Staff Writer
Image courtesy of Orbital Sciences Corp.
Artist rendering of a Antares Launch.

Orbital Sciences Corp. is working hard and fast to get its Antares booster rocket and Cygnus cargo supply capsule flight tested this year.

They have a milestone coming up under their Commercial Orbital Transportation Services agreement with NASA.

But CEO David Thomson told financial analysts April 20 that the first flight of Antares rocket with the Cygnus ISS cargo capsule has slipped again and is not likely to occur before October or November.

He said the certification of the Wallops Island, Va., Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport and its propellant-handling facilities is proceeding without major incident, and that the launch pad should be turned over to Orbital by mid-June.

A test firing of the Antares rocket’s first stage is now scheduled for early July. The rocket will make its inaugural flight, without the Cygnus cargo carrier, in August under the new schedule. The Antares/Cygnus launch would then occur in October or November 2012.

Last week, Antares was erected on its launch pad, and fit tested. After the first hot-fire testing of the new rocket in July, it will be returned to the processing building while work preparing the propellant-delivery systems at the pad is completed. After the hot-fire test, the second Antares vehicle will then be launched to fulfill a milestone under COTS.

MARS is located on NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility. It is actually owned by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. In cooperation with NASA, it offers full-service launch facilities for commercial, government, scientific and academic users both foreign and domestic.

 




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