Tag Archives: Antares

Orbital Sciences intends to use an upgraded Antares rocket as its contribution to Stratolaunch.

The competition heats up: Orbital Sciences intends to use an upgraded Antares rocket as its contribution to Stratolaunch.

Part of the upgrades appear to be making sure Antares has an available replacement engine for the refurbished Soviet-era engines Antares is now using.

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Orbital Sciences is considering three different bids to provide the company new engines for its Antares rocket.

Orbital Sciences is considering three different bids to provide the company new engines for its Antares rocket.

The engine presently used is from a stock of refurbished Russian engines first built in the late 1960s for the Soviet Union’s N1 rocket, designed to send humans to the Moon.

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Orbital Sciences’ balance sheets booming as a result of commercial space.

Orbital Sciences’ balance sheets booming as a result of commercial space.

“Orbital’s fourth quarter financial results reflected solid growth in revenues, earnings per share and free cash flow, and capped a very successful year in 2013,” noted Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. This highly successful report reflects the successes Orbital have enjoyed during the last year. The most publicly recognized successes have involved the opening launches of their new Antares launch vehicle, two of which lofted the first Cygnus spacecraft on their missions to the ISS.

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Cygnus was successfully berthed to ISS today.

Cygnus was successfully berthed to ISS today.

This is the first operational station resupply mission carried out by Orbital Sciences under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA calling for at least eight flights and delivery of 40,000 pounds of cargo and supplies.

The Cygnus captured Sunday will remain attached to the space station until mid February. At that point SpaceX will step up with launch of a Dragon cargo ship around Feb. 22. It will be the third operational resupply flight by SpaceX, which holds a $1.6 billion contract to deliver more than 44,000 pounds of supplies over a dozen missions.

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Orbital Sciences has successfully launched its Cygnus cargo ferry into orbit.

Orbital Sciences has successfully launched its Cygnus cargo ferry into orbit.

Another perfect launch for the company.

Consider once again what has happened. While it cost NASA six years and $9 billion to build nothing before its Constellation program was cancelled, two private companies have built and launched two different rockets and unmanned cargo spacecraft in that same time period for about a third of that cost.

The contrast couldn’t be more stark. And that contrast will get even more stark as the flights of the privately built manned spacecraft by SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada unfold in the coming three years, while SLS and Orion sit around and do little but spend money.

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Orbital Sciences has scrubbed today’s launch of Cygnus due to the major solar flare that occurred yesterday.

Orbital Sciences has scrubbed today’s launch of Cygnus due to the major solar flare that occurred yesterday.

“Early this morning the Antares launch team decided to scrub today’s launch attempt due to an unusually high level of space radiation that exceeded by a considerable margin the constraints imposed on the mission to ensure the rocket’s electronic systems are not impacted by a harsh radiation environment,” Orbital Sciences officials said in a statement today.

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NASA engineers have decided to go ahead with a series of spacewalks to repair the ISS cooling system, thereby delaying the Cygnus cargo mission until January.

NASA engineers have decided to go ahead with a series of spacewalks to repair the ISS cooling system, thereby delaying the Cygnus cargo mission until January.

The EVAs will take place on December 21, 23 and 25 followed by a Russian Spacewalk on the 27th and a Beta-Angle Cut-out beginning on December 29. That means that the earliest launch opportunity for Cygnus is January 9, 2014 (local time) – pending the successful execution of the contingency EVAs.

Update: The Orbital Sciences press announcement says their launch can happen no earlier than January 13.

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The Cygnus cargo mission to ISS has been delayed by at least one day as NASA managers struggle to deal with the station’s coolant pump failure.

The Cygnus cargo mission to ISS has been delayed by at least one day as NASA managers struggle to deal with the station’s coolant pump failure.

As noted in earlier reports, it appears they are considering a series of spacewalks to try to fix the problem.

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Orbital Sciences, having delayed the launch of its first operational Cygnus cargo mission to ISS by one day, has named the spacecraft after the late astronaut Gordon Fullerton.

Orbital Sciences, having delayed the launch of its first operational Cygnus cargo mission to ISS by one day, has named the spacecraft after the late astronaut Gordon Fullerton.

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Except for a troublesome fan, the first Cygnus cargo capsule to dock with ISS is performing perfectly.

Except for a troublesome fan, the first Cygnus cargo capsule to dock with ISS is performing perfectly.

The fan has been a minor issue. The astronauts have simply turned it off periodically when it started to act up. What is really important is this:

The next Cygnus – along with its Antares launch vehicle – is already being processed at Orbital’s Wallops facility, with a target launch date of December 15, with an available launch window through to December 21.

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Orbital Sciences is suing the government agency that operates the Wallops Island spaceport, saying it is refusing to pay a $16.5 million bill.

Orbital Sciences is suing the government agency that operates the Wallops Island spaceport, saying it is refusing to pay a $16.5 million bill.

I am not surprised. One of the prime reasons the launch of Antares and Cygnus was delayed by more than a year was because this same government agency had failed to upgrade the launchpad as promised, and Orbital Sciences was eventually forced to step in, take over, and spend millions to do the work itself.

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A fundamental truth about America

Yesterday, Orbital Sciences successfully completed the first test launch of its Antares rocket, developed, designed, and built in less than five years under a commercial contract with NASA to provide cargo to the International Space Station. The launch went like clockwork, perfectly, with no hitches at all, something that is quite remarkable for a new rocket on its first launch. Kudos to the engineers at Orbital Sciences for a job well done!

Besides demonstrating the skill of Orbital Science’s engineers, however, this successful launch illustrated in stark reality a fundamental fact about the culture of the United States that continues to allow it to stand out from the rest of the world, even as a large percentage of the present generation of Americans are doing their darndest to try to destroy that culture. Moreover, that fundamental cultural fact is basic to human nature, not just the United States, and if we recognize it, it will provide us all the right framework for what to do and not to do in trying to maintain human societies, both here on Earth as well as in the future in space.

In order to understand the true significance of Orbital Sciences’s success yesterday with Antares, however, we must first review the capabilities of the world’s launch industry. I am not going to list all the rockets capable of putting payloads into orbit, only those that are successfully competing for business in the open commercial market.
» Read more

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Orbital Sciences has rolled Antares/Cygnus to the launchpad.

Orbital Sciences has rolled Antares/Cygnus to the launchpad. With pictures.

Take a look. You will notice how simple this operation is, and how little infrastructure is involved, compared to the set up NASA has used for the shuttle and intends to use for SLS.

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NASA has put Orbital Sciences on notice that, assuming its demo cargo mission to ISS in two weeks is a success, the company might have to do it again as soon as December.

The competition heats up: NASA has put Orbital Sciences on notice that, assuming its demo cargo mission to ISS in two weeks is a success, the company might have to do it again as soon as December.

SpaceX is supposed to fly its next cargo mission first, but NASA thinks that flight will be delayed because of development issues with the upgraded Falcon 9 rocket.

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Orbital Sciences prepares its Cygnus capsule for its first flight to ISS, set for launch on September 17.

The competition heats up: Orbital Sciences prepares its Cygnus capsule for its first flight to ISS, set for launch on September 17.

Orbital officials said the Cygnus spacecraft was scheduled to be attached to the upper stage of the Antares launcher Wednesday. Final cargo loading into the Cygnus spacecraft’s pressurized module is set for Saturday, followed by its enclosure inside the rocket’s 12.8-foot-diameter payload fairing.

Rollout of the Antares rocket from its horizontal integration facility to the launch pad one mile away is expected Sept. 13.

September will be a busy and important month for private space. We also will have SpaceX’s first commercial launch with its Falcon 9 rocket. If both are successful, the trend away from a big government space programs shall accelerate.

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Assuming the first demo berthing of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus capsule to ISS goes well in September, NASA has now scheduled the subsequent cargo missions of Cygnus and Dragon for December and January respectively.

Assuming the first demo berthing of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus capsule to ISS goes well in September, NASA has now scheduled the subsequent cargo missions of Cygnus and Dragon for December and January respectively.

The second link above also provides some interesting details about the cargo that Dragon will carry in January.

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