Tag Archives: Taurus 2

NASA used Orbital Sciences’ Taurus 2 rocket for the failed launch of its Glory climate satellite in 2011, even though the agency knew the company had not fixed the problem that caused the loss of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory in 2009.

NASA used Orbital Sciences’ Taurus XL rocket for the failed launch of its Glory climate satellite in 2011, even though the agency knew the company had not fixed the problem that caused the loss of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory in 2009.

The investigators believed there was as much as a 50% chance the faulty component — a fairing separation system for ejecting the protective shroud that covered the satellite during launch — would fail again. Sadly, it did, destroying Glory. More significant for the future, however is this:

Other Orbital vehicles, including the air-launched Pegasus and a new Antares rocket, use a version of the same fairing separation system that is most likely responsible for the combined $700 million loss of two key climate-study satellites. Orbital’s original name for Antares was Taurus II.

So far, NASA has not accepted the Antares shroud-separation configuration for operational flights. Dulles, Va.-based Orbital says it has made a number of changes to its frangible joint fairing separation system in the wake of the Glory launch failure, including modifications to the frangible rail used on Antares. The company is developing that rocket under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to carry cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).

If NASA isn’t satisfied with Orbital’s design changes to this system, it could significantly delay the launch of Cygnus and Antares to ISS.

Update: I had mistakenly referred to the Taurus 2 in the first sentence when the rocket used to launch Glory and OCO was the Taurus XL. This is now corrected.

Orbital Sciences has renamed its Taurus II rocket the Antares rocket

Orbital Sciences has renamed its Taurus II rocket the Antares rocket.

To clear up any marketplace confusion and provide clear differentiation between this new launch vehicle and our Taurus XL rocket. Antares is significantly different – it serves the medium-class space launch market and its liquid fuel first stage technology is major departure from previous Orbital space launch vehicles. In addition, a project of this scale and significance deserves its own name like Orbital’s Pegasus®, Taurus® and Minotaur rocket programs that have come before it.

I think they have also realized they needed to distinguish Antares from the Taurus XL rocket’s recent problems, failing twice to put NASA climate satellites into orbit.

Orbital announces revised schedule for its initial Taurus 2 and Cygnus flights

Orbital Sciences has announced its revised schedule for the initial Taurus 2 and Cygnus flights.

Orbital will conduct a test of the Taurus 2’s first stage on the launch pad in late January [2012], and the inaugural Taurus 2 flight in late February or early March. This will be followed, in early May, by a Taurus 2 flight carrying the Cygnus station cargo vehicle, a flight during which Cygnus is expected to demonstrate its ability to berth with the station. The first operational space station cargo-delivery mission for Taurus 2 and Cygnus will occur in late August or early September under this revised schedule, Orbital officials said.

Based on conversations I’ve had with people at Orbital, this delay was expected, and is a good thing. The company was under incredible time pressure to get ready for a December launch. Given that this will be the first test flight of Taurus 2, and it must work for the Cygnus cargo flights to follow, better they give themselves some working room to get it right.

Orbital Sciences restarts engine testing for its Taurus 2 rocket

Orbital Sciences has resumed engine testing for its Taurus 2 rocket.

While many have doubts about SpaceX, SpaceX has at least flown two successful flights of its Falcon 9 rocket. Orbital needs the Taurus 2 to supply ISS, and this rocket remains untested and as yet incomplete, with the schedule bearing down on them.

Orbital Sciences has launch success

Orbital Sciences has a launch success, putting an Air Force reconnaissance satellite into orbit from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska.

For Orbital, this success cleans off some of the stain left on the company from the recent launch failures of its Taurus 1 rocket. What would leave the company stainless, however, will be a successful first launch of its new Taurus 2 rocket, needed to carry its Cygnus capsule to ISS and scheduled for late this year.

Orbital Sciences gets its launch license for first test of Taurus 2 rocket

Orbital Sciences has gotten its launch license from the FAA for the first test launch of the Taurus 2 rocket, scheduled for later this year.

This rocket is Orbital’s version of the Falcon 9. It is a new rocket, never before flown, yet after this test it is scheduled to fly the Cygnus capsule on its first flight only two months later. Talk about cutting things close!