Orbital ATK successfully completes Antares test fire


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The competition heats up: Orbital ATK today successfully completed a 30 second test fire of the first stage of its redesigned Antares rocket, using new Russian rocket engines.

The primary goal of the test was to verify the functionality of the integrated first stage, including new engines, modified Stage 1 core, avionics, thrust vector control and pad fueling systems in an operational environment. During the test, a number of operational milestones were met including full propellant loading sequence, launch countdown and engine ignition and shut down commands, as well as multiple throttle settings including full engine power. The test also validated the launch pad’s operation, including propellant tanking and the use of the water deluge system to protect the pad from damage and for noise suppression.

Orbital ATK will now purge and clean the engines of residual propellants and return the first stage used in this test to the Horizontal Integration Facility for full reconditioning prior to its use on the OA-7 mission slated for later this year. The Orbital ATK team will continue to prepare the Antares rocket that will launch the OA-5 mission, which is in the final stages of integration, systems testing and check-out in preparation for launch this summer.

They hope to launch a Cygnus capsule on Antares around July 6.

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2 comments

  • mivenho

    I wonder if the SpaceX Falcon would require a complete reconditioning after a test fire of similar duration instead of their usual 2-3 second test

  • Dick Eagleson

    Seems unlikely. Every Falcon 9 1st stage is trucked to McGregor, TX and test fired for some interval before being drained, re-packed and sent on its way to Canaveral or wherever. I don’t know what that test-fire interval is at McGregor, but I gather it’s quite a bit longer than the 3-second shots done at the launch sites. The on-pad hot fires are mostly to make sure nothing jiggled loose during the McGregor-to-launch-facility truck ride.

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