Tag Archives: Taurus II

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 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!

New Taurus II/Cygnus launch schedule announced

Via Clark Lindsey: Orbital Sciences has announced an updated launch schedule for its cargo ship and rocket for supplying ISS.

The first test flight of Taurus II is set for late this year, with the first flight of the Cygnus cargo ship set for the first quarter of 2012.

Orbital Science rocket engine sustains damage in test

One of the rocket engines for Orbital Science’s Taurus rocket, to be used to supply cargo to ISS, was badly damaged in a fuel fire June 9.

The results of the investigation and prognosis for the engine and the Taurus II should come together by the end of this week or early next week, Beneski says. Two other AJ26 engines have completed hot-fire acceptance testing without mishap, according to the Aerojet website. Beneski said the engine mishap potentially affects the testing planned to get the Taurus II ready for operational missions to resupply the ISS.