Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
The competition heats up: Taking advantage of delays in prepping a NOAA weather satellite, Orbital ATK has grabbed a March launch slot on the Atlas 5 for its Cygnus capsule.
Originally Orbital was going to launch on an Atlas 5 in December and then late in 2016 (based on Atlas 5 launch manifest availability), with the Antares launching a Cygnus in-between. By taking this March Atlas 5 launch, they can push the Antares return-to-flight launch back, thus giving themselves more time to install and test its new Russian first stage engines.