Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world's leading space technology companies, today announced that it received a Commercial Space Transportation Launch License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program demonstration mission in early 2012. An expanded license covering the test flight of the company's Taurus(r) II rocket in late 2011 is expected to be granted in the near future.
To secure the license, Orbital was required to submit extensive technical and program management data to the FAA about its Taurus II rocket and Cygnus(tm) spacecraft to ensure that all necessary operational requirements and safety precautions are met. Among the many items reviewed by the FAA were the rocket's planned trajectory, ground tracking procedures, onboard safety and flight termination systems, and the experience and training of the launch operations team.
"We are very pleased to have been granted the Commercial Space Transportation Launch License by the FAA well in advance of our scheduled launch date in early 2012," said Mr. Brent Collins, Orbital's Senior Vice President and Taurus II Program Manager. "While we are very knowledgeable of the FAA licensing process because of our extensive experience with Pegasus and Taurus space launch vehicles, securing the FAA's approval for a new rocket system is always challenging because of the rigor of their oversight. We feel this is a great vote of confidence in our launch vehicle design, the robustness of its subsystems, the thoroughness of our processes, and the training and operational experience of our launch team."
For the COTS demonstration mission, Orbital will launch a Taurus II rocket carrying an operational Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft that will autonomously rendezvous with and operate in close proximity to the International Space Station (ISS) until it is grappled with a robotic arm and berthed to the Station. For the earlier Taurus II test flight, an instrumented Cygnus simulator will be onboard to accurately characterize the launch environment
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