Orbital Set to Launch Cargo Delivery Mission to ISS

Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE:ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that it is prepared to launch the company’s Antares TM rocket carrying a Cygnus TM cargo logistics spacecraft destined for the International Space Station (ISS) under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. Pending completion of final vehicle testing and acceptable local weather conditions, the launch of the Orb-3 mission will take place on Monday, October 27, with lift-off scheduled for 6:45 p.m. (EDT) from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. The Antares medium-class rocket will boost the Cygnus spacecraft into a targeted orbit of approximately 125 x 185 miles (200 x 300 kilometers) above the Earth, inclined at 51.6 degrees to the equator. Following in-orbit activation and testing after launch, Cygnus is slated to rendezvous and berth with the ISS on November 2. Live coverage of the Antares launch and Cygnus berthing with the ISS will be available on NASA Television at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

“Orbital’s Antares rocket will be carrying a Cygnus spacecraft, the SS Deke Slayton, named for one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts,” said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “In addition to his distinguished career as an astronaut, Deke was an early proponent of commercial space initiatives and helped establish the Commercial Space Launch Act in October of 1984. Fittingly, the SS Deke Slayton will be launching during the same month that this groundbreaking legislation was enacted thirty years ago.”

Under its $1.9 billion CRS contract with NASA, Orbital will use Antares and Cygnus to deliver up to 44,000 pounds (20,000 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS over eight missions through 2016. For each mission, NASA will manifest a variety of essential items based on ISS program needs, including food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts and equipment, and scientific experiments.

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For Orbital’s fourth mission to the space station, which includes the 2013 full demonstration mission, the Cygnus spacecraft is carrying 5,050 pounds (2,290 kilograms) of supplies to the Space Station, including science experiments to expand the research capability of the Expedition 41 crew members aboard the orbiting laboratory, along with crew provisions, spare parts and experiment hardware. This mission will also feature Orbital’s first use of the upgraded Castor ® 30XL second stage motor, which enables greater lift capacity for this and future missions.

Orbital privately developed the Antares launch vehicle to provide low-cost, reliable access to space for medium-class payloads. It is the largest and most complex rocket the company has ever produced. Under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) joint research and development initiative with NASA, Orbital also developed and demonstrated the Cygnus spacecraft, which is an advanced maneuvering vehicle that meets the stringent human-rated safety requirements for ISS operations. Together, these products showcase Orbital’s ability to apply rigorous engineering approaches and commercial business practices to significantly shorten development timelines and lower operational costs of sophisticated space systems as compared to traditional government-run programs.

Source: Orbital Sciences Corporation
Date: Oct 26, 2014