Thu, Dec 16, 2010
Proposal Centers Around A Blended Lifting Body Spacecraft
Orbital Sciences Corporation said Wednesday that it has
submitted a proposal to NASA in response to the Commercial Crew
Development-2 contract solicitation. The company also provided
several top-level details of its proposal for providing safe and
affordable transportation services to and from ISS, and for
commercial activities in Earth orbit.
Image Courtesy Orbital
Orbital’s concept includes a “blended lifting
body” vehicle that will launch atop an expendable launch
vehicle and return to Earth with a conventional runway landing.
This design derives from studies performed by Orbital for NASA
under the Orbital Space Plane program between 2000 and 2003. The
vehicle would seat four astronauts, providing a cost-effective
solution for NASA’s astronaut transportation needs, as well
as enabling future commercial applications.
The proposal baselines using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V
rocket, but is flexible enough to accommodate other launch vehicle
options. Orbital also announced that it will lead a team of
world-class suppliers that will contribute major elements of the
system. Orbital’s major suppliers include:
- Thales Alenia Space, which is responsible for the
vehicle’s pressurized crew compartment.
- Northrop Grumman, which is the lead airframe structures
- Honeywell and Draper Laboratory, which together are responsible
for the human-rated avionics.
- United Launch Alliance, which is responsible for the
vehicle’s baseline launch vehicle.
“We have submitted to NASA a well-considered commercial
solution for astronaut transportation to and from the ISS that is
safe, affordable and timely,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, a
former NASA astronaut and Orbital’s Senior Vice President for
Human Spaceflight Systems. “Our team is looking forward to
sharing our ideas with NASA in greater detail and discussing how
they can best be applied to helping the United States continue to
access the ISS in the safest and most cost-effective manner
possible, as well as supporting commercial ventures that are
seeking access to space.”
Image Courtesy Orbital
Orbital is already under contract with NASA to provide unmanned
cargo logistics services to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply
Services (CRS) program using a commercial system consisting of the
company’s Taurus® II medium-class space launch vehicle,
its Cygnus™ cargo logistics spacecraft and a ground-based
command and control systems. Orbital is slated to carry out a
demonstration flight of the combined system in 2011, followed by
operational cargo delivery services beginning in early 2012.
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