Orbital ATK is targeting Sunday, May 20 with a 5-minute window opening at 5:04 a.m. EDT for the launch of the OA-9 mission to the International Space Station. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard an Antares rocket for the seventh time from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus will deliver vital equipment, supplies and scientific equipment to the space station as part of Orbital ATK’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. The Antares launch vehicle is integrated and ready for Cygnus arrival. Initial cargo has been loaded and the Cygnus spacecraft is ready for fueling. After fueling, Cygnus will move to the Horizontal Integration Facility where it will be mated to Antares and final cargo will be loaded. Fairing encapsulation will be the final activity prior to rollout to Virginia Space’s Pad 0A for launch operations.
Designed to provide responsive and low-cost access to space, Antares is a two-stage vehicle (with optional third stage) that provides low-Earth orbit (LEO) launch capability for payloads weighing up to 8,000 kg. Internally funded by Orbital ATK, Antares completed a risk reduction mission and a demonstration of commercial re-supply services for the International Space Station (ISS) under a NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement in 2013. Orbital ATK commenced delivery of cargo to the ISS under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract in 2014.
Cargo is delivered to the station using Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft. The Cygnus spacecraft consists of two modules: the Service Module (SM) which incorporates the avionics, propulsion and power systems from Orbital ATK’s flight proven LEOStar and GEOStar spacecraft buses; and the Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) which carries the crew supplies, spares and scientific experiments. The SM is integrated and tested at Orbital ATK’s Dulles, Virginia satellite manufacturing facility. The PCM is supplied by Thales Alenia Space and is produced in Turin Italy.
Quelle: Orbital ATK
Next space station resupply launch scheduled May 20 at Wallops Island
The next mission to resupply the International Space Station is scheduled to launch early on May 20 from a state-owned spaceport at Wallops Island on the Virginia Eastern Shore.
The pre-dawn launch would be the sixth from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport by Orbital ATK, the Dulles-based aerospace company that is resupplying the space station under a multibillion-dollar contract with NASA.
“You should be able to see it from the Richmond area,” said Keith Koehler, spokesman for the NASA Wallops Flight Facility near Chincoteague.
The launch of the Antares 230 rocket, scheduled at 5:04 a.m. on a Sunday morning, would be the third since a rocket exploded after an aborted liftoff in October 2014 and dealt $15 million in damage to one of two state-owned launch pads at Wallops.
The last resupply mission from Wallops launched on Nov. 11, carrying a record payload of supplies and materials for scientific experiments to the orbiting space station, now 18 years old.
“If we can do another mission like the one the last time, fantastic!” Orbital spokesman Barry Beneski said Wednesday after the announcement of the launch date. “Because the last mission was picture-perfect.”
Orbital is awaiting completion of its acquisition by Northrop Grumman, another Northern Virginia-based aerospace giant, whose corporate leaders said Wednesday that they expect the deal to be completed by the middle of the year.
The current contract between Orbital and NASA calls for two more commercial resupply missions — one near the end of this year and another in the first half of next year — both from the Wallops facility built on the barrier island in 1945.
“That’s home base for us,” Beneski said.
Orbital has a second commercial resupply contract that will begin next year and extend through 2024. The deal guarantees at least six resupply missions. “Beyond that, we’ll see,” Beneski said.
Virginia has a big and growing investment in the spaceport, operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, or Virginia Space. The state has invested more than $100 million in two launchpads, one for liquid-fuel rockets such as Antares and the other for solid-fuel rockets such as Minotaur.
It spent $5.8 million to develop a runway on Wallops for testing unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, that already is attracting government and commercial interest after opening last May.
Virginia also is investing $20 million in a new payload processing facility that, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, will enable the state to support what Virginia Space Executive Director Dale Nash described as “national security launches and scientific payloads.”
Construction will be complete by November, Nash predicted. “It’s going to be a very clean, very secure facility.”
The payoff is investment and jobs at Virginia-based companies such as Orbital, which manufactures the Antares service modules at its Dulles facilities and ships them to Wallops for assembly with rocket and spacecraft components made around the world.
“It’s at Wallops where it all comes together,” Beneski said.
The spaceport itself operates with an annual state contribution of $15.8 million, as well as launch fees from commercial customers.
Nash said the state operation generates both business investment and jobs in an economically stressed region that needs both.
“We’re an economic engine,” he said. “We’re giving our homegrown talent a good place to work.”
Quelle: Richmond Times-Dispatch
NASA Highlights Science on Next Orbital ATK Mission to Space Station
The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is pictured as the International Space Station orbits above the state of Florida, The Bahamas and the country of Cuba.
NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, May 10, to discuss select science investigations and technology demonstrations launching on the next Orbital ATK commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station.
Orbital ATK is targeting Sunday, May 20, for the launch of its Cygnus spacecraft on an Antares rocket from pad 0A at Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.
The Cygnus spacecraft will carry crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to the orbiting laboratory to support the Expedition 55 and 56 crews for the ninth contracted mission by Orbital ATK under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
To participate in the teleconference, media must contact Kathryn Hambleton at 202-358-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 a.m. Thursday, for dial-in information.
Participants in Thursday’s briefing will be:
Sarah Wallace, microbiologist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and principal investigator for Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST), an investigation to identify unknown microbial organisms on the space station and understand how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living on the station
Robert Shotwell, chief engineer for Astronomy and Physics Directorate, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, and manager for the Cold Atom Laboratory, a physics research facility used by scientists to explore how atoms interact when they have almost no motion due to extreme cold temperatures
Andrea Adamo, founder and CEO for Zaiput Flow Technologies, who will discuss plans to validate a unique liquid separation system that relies on surface forces, rather than gravity, to extract one liquid from another
Brandon Briggs, assistant professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, who will discuss a payload that will evaluate the biological production of the biofuel isobutene using engineered E.coli under microgravity conditions
A representative from Space Applications Services for the Ice Cubes Facility, the first commercial European opportunity to conduct research in space, made possible through an agreement with ESA (European Space Agency)
Orbital ATK space station freighter named for late executive and NASA director
Orbital ATK's next space station-bound Cygnus spacecraft, named the "S.S. J.R. Thompson" is seen being loaded into a container to be transported for its pre-launch fueling at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. (Orbital ATK)
– An aerospace executive and NASA director who helped lead the development of rocket engines for the Saturn V and space shuttle is being memorialized with the naming of a commercial cargo spacecraft.
James Robert "J.R." Thompson, Jr., who died at the age of 81 on Nov. 7, 2017, is the namesake for Orbital ATK's next Cygnus spacecraft set to launch to the International Space Station. The "S.S. J.R. Thompson" will lift off on the OA-9 mission atop an Orbital ATK Antares booster from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia under a resupply services contract with the space agency.
The launch of the S.S. J.R. Thompson, packed with 7,385 pounds (3,350 kilograms) of crew supplies, equipment and scientific experiments for the space station, is targeted for Sunday, May 20.
The late J.R. Thompson, namesake for Orbital ATK's OA-9 Cygnus spacecraft, seen in 1988 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where he was director at the time. (NASA)
"I am proud to announce we will name this spacecraft after J. R. Thompson, a distinguished leader in the aerospace industry and an indispensable leader of our Orbital ATK leadership team for over 20 years," said Dave Thompson, president and CEO of the Dulles, Virginia-based company, in a video statement released on Tuesday (May 8). "Since our first cargo mission nearly 5 years ago, it has been our tradition to name the Cygnus spacecraft in honor of people who have advanced our country's human space program."
"J.R. was instrumental in the development of our Antares rocket, as well as several other [of the company's] vehicles and spacecraft," said Thompson, who is of no relation.
J.R. Thompson served as vice chair and senior executive advisor of Orbital ATK's predecessor Orbital Sciences after being the company's president and chief operating officer from 1999 to 2011. Prior to that, he was the executive vice president and general manager of launch systems and the corporation's chief technical officer.
"J.R.'s exceptional engineering expertise and his inspiring leadership motivated all those around him – including me," said Thompson.
Before joining Orbital, J.R. Thompson worked for 20 years at NASA, including being the space agency's tenth deputy administrator from 1989 to 1991 and the fifth director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, from 1986 to 1989.
Thompson first came to Marshall in 1963, after working for Pratt and Whitney Aircraft as a development engineer. As a new member of the NASA team, Thompson served as a liquid propulsion system engineer designing and analyzing components for the J-2 rocket engine used on the second and third stages of the Saturn V, which flew astronauts to the moon 50 years ago.
Thompson continued his work on other Saturn rocket and interplanetary propulsion systems through 1974, when he was named manager of the Main Engine Projects Office to lead the development and operation of the most advanced liquid propulsion rocket engine ever built, the space shuttle main engine, or RS-25, which has since been modified for use with NASA's Space Launch System rocket.
Orbital ATK's official OA-9 mission patch for the flight the S.S. J.R. Thompson to the International Space Station. (Orbital ATK)
In 1986, prior to becoming director at Marshall, Thompson served as the vice chairman of NASA's investigation board into the loss of the space shuttle Challenger. In that role, Thompson led the collection and analysis of data related to the accident in support of the presidential commission on the STS-51L tragedy.
The recipient of the NASA Medal for Exceptional Service and the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, Thompson is the first person to have a Cygnus named for him who has not flown in space.
The most recent Cygnus to resupply the space station, the S.S. Gene Cernan, was named for the commander of the Apollo 17 mission and "last man on the moon," who died in January 2017. The spacecraft launched Nov. 12, 2017 and was at the space station for 21 days. It departed on Dec. 6, 12 days before being intentionally destroyed re-entering Earth's atmosphere.
NASA Offers Guidance for Drone Use Viewing Antares Launch
Drone operators are being urged to exercise caution if using the aircraft to view the May 20 Antares rocket launch and avoid flying over the public and NASA Wallops Flight Facility property.
Personal drones, also called unmanned aerial systems, provide a different viewing perspective when someone is looking for dramatic or unusual video.
Trying to capture that dramatic image of a rocket launch, such as the May 20 mission of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, is no exception.
Doug Voss, deputy chief of Wallops’ Range and Mission Management Office, said “We don’t want to prevent drone operators from getting that perfect launch video. However, we also are obligated to making sure that the viewing public is safe and that drones do not pose a threat to the success and safety of launch operations.”
Operators should adhere to Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
There will be several thousand people in the area viewing the launch. When using drones, operators should not fly over crowds. Public safety is paramount.
Finally, to not pose a hazard to launch operations, drones should not fly over NASA Wallops Flight Facility property, the marsh areas between Wallops Island and the mainland and over the Atlantic Ocean east of Wallops Island.
Voss said, “We want to make this a safe and successful launch experience for everyone. We think this can be accomplished if everyone follows established drone operation guidelines and the aircraft do not pose a hazard to the public and launch operations.”
Antares rocket rolls to Virginia launch pad, liftoff delayed to Monday
Orbital ATK transferred an Antares rocket and Cygnus supply ship to their launch pad on Virginia’s Eastern Shore late Thursday for a liftoff now targeted for Monday with more than 7,200 pounds of cargo heading for the International Space Station.
Riding a self-propelled transporter, the two-stage booster rolled out of Orbital ATK’s Horizontal Integration Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, after nightfall Thursday for the mile-long journey south to pad 0A, where crews planned to hoist the 139-foot-tall (42.5-meter) launcher vertical for final preflight checkouts.
Liftoff of the OA-9 resupply mission is scheduled for 4:39 a.m. EDT (0839 GMT) Monday, a day later than previously planned. Orbital ATK, the prime contractor and operator of the Antares launcher and Cygnus supply ship, said in a statement Friday that the one-day delay was ordered “to support further pre-launch inspections and more favorable weather conditions.”
There is an 80 percent probability of acceptable weather during Monday’s five-minute launch window, officials said.
Technicians finished packing 7,205 pounds (3,268 kilograms) of equipment, experiments and provisions inside the Cygnus spacecraft’s pressurized compartment Wednesday, then installed the Antares rocket’s payload shroud over the cargo craft ahead of Thursday night’s rollout.
The Cygnus spacecraft will reach the space station a few days after launch, and astronauts will begin unpacking supplies delivered inside the ship’s internal cabin.
The cargo awaiting delivery to the space station next week includes high-definition cameras that will be installed on the forward end of the complex during a spacewalk in June, high-pressure tanks of oxygen to recharge the space station’s internal atmosphere, and a self-contained quantum physics research facility developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory called the Cold Atom Laboratory, which will chill its contents to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero for analysis by researchers.
There are 16 CubeSats traveling into space aboard the Cygnus supply ship, including 10 that will be moved by astronauts into the space station for release from a deployer outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. Another six CubeSats will be ejected from the Cygnus spacecraft itself after it departs the station in July.
Counting the CubeSats and their NanoRacks deployer mounted outside the Cygnus spacecraft, the OA-9 mission’s total cargo manifest comes to 7,385 pounds (3,350 kilometers).
The Cygnus spacecraft is named for J.R. Thompson, the former chief operating officer at Orbital Sciences Corp. who died last year. Thompson served in multiple management positions at Orbital, overseeing development of the Antares rocket and other vehicles in the company’s launcher family.
He had a lengthy career at NASA before joining Orbital Sciences, including stints as the space agency’s deputy administrator and as director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Thompson was manager of the space shuttle main engine development project at Marshall in the 1970s, and he previously served as a liquid propulsion systems engineer on the J-2 engine that flew on the Saturn 5 moon rocket.
The mission set for launch Monday is the ninth of 11 cargo deliveries assigned to Orbital ATK by NASA under a contract valued at nearly $2.9 billion. An additional Cygnus test mission also flew to the space station in 2013 with supplies, before the start of operational trips in 2014.
One of Orbital ATK’s eight previous operational resupply missions suffered a launch failure.
SpaceX has a similar contract with NASA for 20 missions worth more than $3 billion, with 14 of those missions completed, including one launch failure.
Monday’s flight will be the eighth launch of an Antares rocket, and the third Antares launch using new Russian-built RD-181 main engines, which replaced decades-old Russian engines of the type blamed for an explosive Antares launch failure in October 2014.
Orbital ATK reserved rides for three Cygnus cargo missions on United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets in 2015, 2016 and 2017, while engineers modified the Antares booster for the new engines.
Before departing the space station in July, the Cygnus spacecraft will conduct a brief maneuver to reboost the research lab’s orbit. It will be the first time a commercial U.S. cargo vehicle has attempted a space station reboost, a capability currently only provided by Russian spacecraft.
Visiting space shuttles and Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle also provided reboost services before their retirement.
At the end of its mission, the Cygnus supply ship will release its final set of CubeSats, then re-enter the atmosphere and burn up during re-entry over the Pacific Ocean, disposing of several tons of trash packed by the space station’s crew.
Additional photos of the Antares rocket’s rollout Thursday night are posted below.
Cygnus Raised for Pre-Dawn OA-9 Launch to Space Station Monday from Virginia
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is raised at launch Pad-0A, Friday, May 18, 2018 at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Antares will launch with the Cygnus spacecraft filled with 7,400 pounds of cargo for the International Space Station (ISS), including science experiments, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware. The mission is Orbital ATK’s ninth contracted cargo delivery flight to ISS for NASA. Photo Credit: NASA / Aubrey Gemignani
UPDATE May 19 @ 10:00am EDT – Story updated with photos of Antares being raised vertical atop the launch pad in preparation for a launch attempt at 4:39 a.m. EDT Monday morning (8:39am UTC).
UPDATE May 18 @ 12:30pm EDT – Launch has been delayed to NET Monday, May 21st at 4:39 a.m. EDT, “to support further pre-launch inspections and more favorable weather conditions. Monday shows an 80% probability of acceptable weather for launch.”
ORIGINAL STORY – Around 7,400 pounds (3,350 kg) of cargo, payloads and supplies for the incumbent Expedition 55 and upcoming astronaut and cosmonaut crews are due to rocket towards the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday morning, 20 May, when Orbital ATK lofts its Antares 230 booster from Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Va. Current plans call for the 133-foot-tall (40.5-meter) Antares to launch during a five-minute “window”, which opens at 5:04 a.m. EDT. Designated “OA-9”—for Orbital ATK, which is currently in the final stages of procurement by Northrop Grumman Corp.—Sunday’s mission is the ninth dedicated cargo delivery flight to launch, but actually the tenth overall, when one counts the September 2013 ORB-D “demonstration” mission. Assuming an on-time launch, the Cygnus cargo ship will arrive at the station on Thursday, 24 May, where it will be robotically captured by the 57.7-foot-long (17.6-meter) Canadarm2 and berthed on the Earth-facing (or “nadir”) port of the Harmony node.
Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket with Cygnus spacecraft is on schedule for a 5-minute launch window opening May 21 at 4:39 a.m. EDT on the company’s CRS-9 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Launch will be from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
The 6-hour, 15-minute count is scheduled to begin at 10:24 p.m. tonight.
Weather remains at 65-percent favorable for the May 21 launch window. The current forecast for a one-day slip in the launch has 55-percent favorable weather and 75-percent favorable for a two-day slip.
“Weather is going to potentially affect visibility” of the launch in the region, although cloud cover can occasionally enhance views when the rocket illuminates them during flight, said Doug Voss, deputy chief of the Range and Mission Management Office at NASA Wallops, during a press briefing this morning.
A May 21 launch would have the Cygnus spacecraft scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Thursday morning, May 24.
Antares Rocket Launches NASA Cargo to Space Station in Dazzling Predawn Liftoff
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — An Orbital ATK Antares rocket pierced the clouds in the predawn sky over Virginia this morning (May 21) with a dazzling predawn launch to deliver more than 3 tons of vital supplies to the International Space Station.
The Antares rocket launched an uncrewed Cygnus cargo ship at 4:44 a.m. EDT (0844 GMT) from Pad-0A of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility here, and successfully reached orbit 9 minutes later. The Cygnus, also built by Orbital ATK, is expected to arrive at the space station on Thursday (May 24).
"Earth's newest spacecraft launched this morning in a column of fire and roar," Kirk Shireman, NASA's space station program manager, told reporters after the successful liftoff. "Just an outstanding, outstanding launch."
Because of its predawn timing, Monday's launch was expected to be visible to potentially millions of spectators along the U.S. East Coast. More than 2,000 people were expected at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center alone, NASA officials said. And one of those spectators was NASA's new adminsitrator, Jim Bridenstine, who attended the launch in person, according to NASA.
Orbital ATK's Cygnus is packed with 7,385 lbs. (3,350 kilograms) of experiments, clothing, food and other supplies for the six Expedition 55 crewmembers currently living aboard the International Space Station.
That gear includes the Cold Atom Laboratory, an experiment built by scientists to create the coldest spot in the universe using lasers, as well as a closed-loop plant growth experiment, a sextant for navigation studies, and a series of cubesats that will be deployed in orbit from both the station and the Cygnus itself once it departs the orbiting laboratory.
"What's also important is it will bring home almost 3 tons of cargo back from the space station," Shireman said yesterday.
The Cygnus spacecraft is a disposable vehicle designed to intentionally burn up in Earth's atmosphere at the end of its mission. Before leaving the space station, it will be filled with tons of trash and other unneeded items for disposal, according to its mission profile. Orbital ATK named this Cygnus the S.S. J.R. Thompson in honor of J.R. Thompson, a former NASA director and Orbital ATK executive who died last November.
"In fond memory of [the Cygnus spacecraft's namesake, aerospace executive] Mr. J.R. Thompson, we wish Cygnus a a smooth trip on the rest of their journey to the International Space Station," a spokesperson from Mission Control said after annoucing that the spacecraft had reached orbit.
Monday's launch marked the ninth cargo delivery mission for NASA by the Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK under a $2.9 billion contract for 11 such missions in all. It was the seventh Orbital ATK cargo mission to use the company's Orbital ATK's Antares rocket. The other two missions launched on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Orbital ATK is one of two companies currently ferrying cargo to the International Space Station for NASA. The other is SpaceX, which is expected to fly 20 delivery flights for NASA as part of a contract valued at just over $3 billion. SpaceX has flown 14 of those missions so far using its Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon spacecraft.
NASA has also picked Orbital ATK, SpaceX and another company —Sierra Nevada Corp. — for a new round of cargo delivery contracts under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 program. Sierra Nevada will use its uncrewed Dream Chaser space planes and Atlas V rockets to make its deliveries.
Visit Space.com Thursday for complete docking coverage of the Cygnus OA-9 mission. This story, originally posted at 4:58 a.m. EDT, was updated at 7:46 a.m. EDT to include comments from NASA's post-launch press conference.