Sun, Oct 21, 2012
Hot-Fire Engine Testing Still To Be Completed
The head of Orbital Sciences Corporation says that he expects the first Antares rocket will launch from Wallops Island in Virginia before the end of the year, but a lot depends on fueling and engine tests slated to get underway next week.
Orbital chairman and CEO David Thompson made the remarks during a conference call with investors Thursday. Spaceflight Now reports that an Antares first stage is in place on the launch pad at Wallops Island, and the company is set to begin several weeks of testing on the booster's two AJ26 engines. That testing should begin next month.
Antares will boost the Cygnus automated cargo vessel on resupply missions to the ISS. Orbital is one of NASA's partners in the cargo resupply development program, with the space agency providing up to $288 million for the system's design and testing.
Thompson said if the November tests go well, the company will proceed with planned flight tests in December using a second Antares booster. The one currently on the pad for testing would be refurbished for a future flight.
By later next year, Orbital expects it will begin flying the first of eight contracted commercial cargo deliveries to the ISS with the Antares/Cygnus system.
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