Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung von ULA Atlas 5 mit Cygnus OA-4 Fracht Mission



Atlas V continues to be choice for reliable, cost-effective launch services

Centennial, Colo.,  United Launch Alliance (ULA) will launch a second Cygnus cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under a contract with Orbital ATK to support NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program.  The first ULA Atlas launch of a Cygnus cargo mission, OA-4, is set to lift off in early December 2015.

“We look forward to working with our outstanding mission partners on this second cargo mission,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “Our reliable Atlas V offers the performance needed for our customer’s Cygnus spacecraft to carry the maximum cargo load to service the space station – 3,500 kg of pressurized cargo.” 

The second cargo mission is scheduled to launch in 2016 aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 

“Our team and our partners are devoting maximum efforts to ensuring the success of NASA’s ISS commercial cargo program,” said David W. Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Orbital ATK. “We are committed to meeting all CRS mission requirements, and we are prepared to continue to supply the Space Station.”

ULA’s Atlas V launch vehicle has launched 55 times with 100 percent mission success. Atlas continues to be the cost-effective, proven choice for commercial and government customers to deliver vital payloads to orbit. 

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 95 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system. 

Quelle: ULA


Cygnus Freighter Arrives at Kennedy as Orbital ATK Ramps Up Station Resupply Recovery Efforts via Atlas V

The Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module for the OA-4 mission arrived at the Kennedy Space Center during August 2015 for processing in preparation for the upcoming CRS space station resupply mission to be launched from Florida in early December 2015. Credit: Orbital ATK
A commercial Cygnus cargo freighter has just arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to begin intensive processing for a critical mission to deliver some four tons of science experiments and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) atop an Atlas V rocket in early December – as manufacturer Orbital ATK takes a big step in ramping up activities to fulfill its station resupply commitments and recover from the catastrophic launch failure of the firms Antares rocket last October.
Taking advantage of the built in flexibility to launch Cygnus on a variety of rockets, Orbital ATK quickly contracted rocket maker United Launch Alliance (ULA) to propel the cargo ship as soon as practical on the venerable Atlas V – as Orbital simultaneously endeavors to reengineer the Antares and bring that vehicle back to full flight status in 2016.
Since the fastest and most robust path back to on orbital cargo delivery runs through Florida via an Atlas V, Orbital ATK teamed up with ULA to launch a minimum of one Cygnus with an option for more.
Cygnus is comprised of a pressurized cargo module (PCM) manufactured by Thales Alenia Space’s production facility in Turin, Italy and a service module (SM) manufactured at Orbital ATK’s Dulles, Virginia satellite manufacturing facility.
The PCM arrived on Monday, Aug. 11 and is now being processed for the flight dubbed OA-4 at KSC inside the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF). After the SM arrives in October it will be mated to the PCM inside the SSPF.
The OA-4 Service Module (SM) undergoing deployment testing of one of its two UltraflexTM solar arrays at orbital ATK’s Dulles, Virginia satellite manufacturing facility. Orbital ATK’s Space Components Division supplies the Ultraflex arrays. Credit: Orbital ATK
The first Cygnus cargo mission should liftoff sometime late in the fourth quarter of 2015, perhaps as soon as Dec. 3, aboard an Atlas V 401 vehicle from Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Since ULA’s Atlas V manifest was already fully booked, ULA managers told me that they worked diligently to find a way to manufacture and insert an additional Atlas V into the tight launch sequence flow at the Cape.
And since the station and its six person crews can’t survive and conduct their scientific research work without a steady train of cargo delivery missions from the station’s partner nations, Orbital ATK is “devoting maximum efforts” to get their Antares/Cygnus ISS resupply architecture back on track as fast as possible.
Orbital ATK holds a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract from NASA worth $1.9 Billion to deliver 20,000 kilograms of research experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and hardware for eight Cygnus cargo delivery flights to the ISS.
However, the Cygnus missions were put on hold when the third operational Antares/Cygnus flight was destroyed in a raging inferno about 15 seconds after liftoff on the Orb-3 mission from launch pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore.
“We committed to NASA that we would resume CRS cargo delivery missions as soon as possible under a comprehensive ‘go-forward’ plan after the Antares launch failure last October,” said David W. Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Orbital ATK.
“Since that time our team has been sharply focused on fulfilling that commitment. With a Cygnus mission slated for later this year and at least three missions to the Space Station planned in 2016, we are on track to meet our CRS cargo requirements for NASA.”
Orbital says they will deliver the full quantity of cargo specified in the CRS contract with NASA.
“Our team and our partners are devoting maximum efforts to ensuring the success of NASA’s ISS commercial cargo program.”
“We are committed to meeting all CRS mission requirements, and we are prepared to continue to supply the Space Station.”
For the OA-4 cargo mission, Cygnus will be loaded with its heaviest cargo to date on nearly four tons.
The weightier cargo is possible because a longer version of Cygnus will be employed.
This mission will fly with the extended Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) which will carry approximately 3,500 kg or 7,700 pounds of supplies to station.
“This is a very exciting time for the Cygnus team at Orbital ATK,” said Frank DeMauro, vice president of Human Space Systems and program director of the Commercial Resupply Services program at Orbital ATK.
“Not only are we launching from Kennedy on an Atlas V for the first time, but this will also be the first flight of the Enhanced Cygnus, which includes a larger cargo module and a more mass-efficient service module.”
Use of the enhanced Cygnus in combination with the added thrust ULA V is a game changer enabling the Cygnus to carry its maximum possible cargo load for NASA.
“During our first three missions, we delivered 3,629 kilograms to the space station, about the weight of two F-150 pickup trucks,” said Frank DeMauro.
The OA-4 Cygnus alone will deliver some 3,500 kilograms.
Once in orbit, Cygnus fires its onboard thrusters to precisely guide itself close to the space station so that the astronauts can grapple it with the robotic arm and berth it to a port on the station.
Be sure to read Ken’s earlier eyewitness reports about last October’s Antares failure at NASA Wallops and ongoing reporting about Orbital ATK’s recovery efforts – all here at Universe Today.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
Quelle: UT
Update: 25.10.2015

Cygnus Loaded With Nearly 4 Tons of Supplies for December Return to Space Station

Engineers this week completed connecting the Pressurized Cargo Module with the Service Module to form the Cygnus spacecraft that will ferry more than 7,000 pounds of supplies, equipment, and experiments to the International Space Station for NASA in December. The OA-4 mission is scheduled to launch atop a ULA Atlas-V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. NET Dec. 3, 2015. Photo Credit: NASA
Orbital ATK’s first unmanned Cygnus cargo ship since the loss of the ORB-3 mission last year is nearly ready for an early December return-to-flight to deliver over 7,700 pounds of supplies, equipment, and experiments to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. The OA-4 mission is scheduled to launch Dec. 3, courtesy of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V 401 rocket, and this week engineers in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida finished packing the pressurized portion of the spacecraft for the 17,500 mph trip to the $100 billion international orbital research outpost.
Workers had to lift the spacecraft’s Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) and rotate it upright to join it to the spacecraft’s second critical piece of hardware, the power-producing Service Module (SM)—the “brain” of Cygnus that holds the spacecraft’s avionics, electrical, communication, propulsion system, and instrumentation to steer in space.
Crews spent this week packing the pressurized portion of the Cygnus spacecraft before rotating the cylindrical module upright so it could be lifted to join the power-producing service module. Photo Credit: NASA
The spacecraft as a whole is an enhanced version of the original, featuring an extended PCM, a lighter CM, and new lightweight Ultraflex solar arrays, upgrades which will enable the new Cygnus to fly nearly as much weight as the last three Cygnus missions combined.
The OA-4 resupply mission will come over a year after Orbital ATK’s 133-foot-tall Antares rocket exploded spectacularly just six seconds after liftoff on Oct. 28, 2014, carrying the company’s Cygnus on its third ISS resupply mission under a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. Signed in December 2008, the agreement requires the Dulles, Va.-based company to fly eight dedicated Cygnus missions to the ISS by 2016 to deliver a total of 44,000 pounds of payloads and other items for NASA.
The contract has since since been extended, for obvious reasons, and NASA has already given Orbital ATK two additional missions under that same contract as well, missions OA-9e and OA-10e, giving Cygnus 10 flights under the CRS-1 contract instead of the original eight.
However, the increased capability of the ULA Atlas-V compared to the Orbital ATK Antares means ULA can haul 35 percent more cargo to orbit with Cygnus, which would have allowed Orbital ATK to fulfill their original CRS-1 contract in seven flights instead of eight. Now, with the contract extended to 10 flights, it is expected that Orbital ATK will only really need nine, with the 10th Cygnus CRS-1 contract flight optional depending on the needs of the ISS.
NASA signed two CRS contracts; the other was signed with SpaceX for the same ISS resupply services. This summer a SpaceX Falcon-9 also exploded with its Dragon capsule packed with thousands of pounds of ISS cargo, leaving the United States again unable to reach the ISS on its own. SpaceX also received an extension from NASA for their CRS-1 contract, with several new resupply missions added to the manifest.
The loss of ORB-3 last year was eventually blamed on a turbopump-related failure in one of the two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-26 stage one main engines the Antares employed. Aerojet, however, has rebutted this cause and instead puts the blame on improper handling. Orbital ATK has since replaced the AJ-26 engines on the Antares 130 variant, and has instead purchased Russian RD-181 engines from NPO Energomash for the more powerful Antares 230 variant. The greater performance of the upgraded Antares 230 will permit Cygnus to deliver over 20 percent more cargo—some 15,000 pounds—to low-Earth orbit.
The first set of the rocket’s new RD-181 engines arrived at Orbital ATK’s Antares launch site at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia last July, and the first set of new engines have already been integrated with the rocket’s modified core stage. A second set of engines for another Antares was expected to be delivered this fall, and a 29-second static test fire of the upgraded Antares first stage with the new AJ-26 engines is on track for December or January.
“The integration of our first launch vehicle is well underway and we are solidly on track to resume flying Antares in 2016,” said Mike Pinkston, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Antares Program. “The RD-181 provides more thrust and higher specific impulse than the AJ-26. This, combined with the extra power of the Castor 30XL upper stage, will greatly increase the payload capacity of Antares, enabling Orbital ATK to achieve the cargo requirements of their CRS contact with NASA in fewer flights.”
The Antares launch pad sustained damage from the ORB-3 explosion as well, and has since been completely repaired. The future of Antares and Cygnus, however, is not certain. NASA is expected to announce Nov. 5 whether Orbital ATK receives another multi-billion dollar CRS contract (CRS-2) or not, as there are several companies in the running. If Cygnus is not contracted for the next round of NASA ISS resupply contracts then the Wallops launch site, and Antares rocket, may remain quiet for much longer than just the last year.
In the meantime Orbital ATK will need ULA for another Atlas-V rocket to launch Cygnus a second time early next year, which will supplement two or three Antares-launched missions to the ISS in 2016, with the first expected next spring.
“With OA-4 set to launch in December and at least three additional missions to the ISS planned in 2016, we remain solidly on schedule to meet our CRS cargo requirements for NASA,” said Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group and former NASA space shuttle/ISS astronaut. “Our team’s performance in meeting milestones on an accelerated timeline demonstrates the company’s flexibility and responsiveness to customer needs. If all goes as planned, on Dec. 3, space watchers new and seasoned can thrill to seeing a unique, ‘two-of-its-kind’ launch, as an Atlas-V rocket lofts a Cygnus cargo ship to orbit.”
Quelle: AS
Update: 26.10.2015

Bags are packed inside Cygnus commercial cargo freighter

Technicians load cargo inside the Cygnus spacecraft’s pressurized supply section in this photo taken Oct. 20. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
The first installment of supplies and provisions tagged for launch on Orbital ATK’s next commercial supply run to the International Space Station, the company’s first since a catastrophic launch failure last year, has been loaded into the Cygnus spacecraft’s pressurized cargo section.
Technicians will install more cargo next month before sealing the Cygnus spaceship’s hatch for launch. When the automated cargo capsule blasts off Dec. 3, it will haul up approximately 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) to the International Space Station.
The flight is Orbital ATK’s fourth commercial resupply mission to the complex, out of 10 cargo launches currently on contract with NASA.
Ground crews connected the Cygnus spacecraft’s pressurized cargo module, made in Italy by Thales Alenia Space, with the ship’s propulsion and power segment inside Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility on Oct. 22. The next step calls for the spacecraft to be transferred to a nearby fueling facility to receive propellant for in-space maneuvers and a final load of time-sensitive supplies.
Then the spacecraft will be enclosed within the nose cone of its Atlas 5 rocket in mid-November, followed by its shipment to Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad for lifting atop the launcher.
NASA contracted with SpaceX and Orbital ATK for resupply services to the space station in 2008. The next Cygnus flight, dubbed OA-4, is Orbital ATK’s first mission since the company’s third cargo flight crashed shortly after liftoff in October 2014.
Technicians add cargo containers to the Cygnus spacecraft’s pressurized module in this Oct. 20 image. Credit: NASA/Dmitri Gerondidakis
Quelle: SN
Update: 11.11.2015
Cygnus Starts Final Round of Processing for Station Cargo Delivery
The Cygnus spacecraft arrives in the high bay at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF). In the background are the two halves of the Atlas V payload fairing.
Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett
The next U.S. cargo delivery to the International Space Station is steadily progressing toward launch.
An Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida undergoing a final round of prelaunch preparations for its December liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. This will be Orbital ATK’s fourth commercial resupply flight to the station and will carry more than 7,000 pounds of supplies, equipment and research to keep the station stocked and capable of serving as a platform for studies off the Earth, for the Earth.
The Atlas first-stage booster arrived Nov. 8 aboard the United Launch Alliance barge, the Delta Mariner.
The uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft comprises a pressurized cargo module and an attached service module housing the onboard propulsion system and twin power-producing solar arrays.
Processing began with the Aug. 10 arrival of the Cygnus pressurized module, followed by the service module about two months later. Both were delivered by flatbed truck to Kennedy’s Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF). The pressurized module was loaded with cargo Oct. 19 and 20, rotated to vertical and mated to the service module on Oct. 22, clearing the way for the journey to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility.
The PHSF has played host to a variety of planetary probes, as well as the Hubble Space Telescope and Orion spacecraft – but Cygnus marks another first.
“This is the first time a spacecraft bound for ISS has processed within this facility,” said Launch Site Integration Manager Mark Shugg.
The spacecraft’s arrival in the PHSF high bay kicked off a series of processing steps beginning with the loading of the spacecraft’s propellants, hydrazine and an oxidizer. In the coming days, it will be rotated into the horizontal position, allowing Orbital ATK engineers and technicians to load late-stow cargo items into the pressurized module. Finally, Cygnus will be returned to vertical and sealed within the Atlas V payload fairing, an activity slated for Nov. 17.
At that point, its next stop is Space Launch Complex 41.
“This has been an extremely accelerated process, to get from an initial starting point early this year and be at the point of accepting them into our facility. We accomplished in a few months what we would normally do in two years of preparation for our typical Launch Services Program spacecraft customers,” Shugg said.
“We are very happy to extend the use of our facility to this cause. There is no other facility on [Kennedy Space Center] property that has the capability to perform the hazardous processing that is required for this mission,” he added.
This mission marks the first flight of the Cygnus since Oct. 28, 2014, when the company’s Antares rocket suffered a catastrophic anomaly resulting in the loss of the spacecraft and its cargo shortly after liftoff from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
“With a new customer like Orbital ATK/Cygnus, there is a learning curve from both sides as we develop a working relationship. Working on such a tight schedule has caused the teams to immerse themselves in each other’s culture and develop that relationship quickly,” Shugg said.
Kennedy teams were flexible and responsive as Orbital ATK adapted to the condensed timeline, according to ISS Launch Support Project Manager Randy Gordon.
“They had to move their spacecraft, equipment, people and overall operations to this new location in an extremely short time,” Gordon explained.
“It was good having them in the SSPF,” he added. “They have a lean workforce, but they worked hard and stayed on schedule.”
While the Cygnus is readied for flight, the Atlas V rocket is coming together as well. The vehicle’s Centaur upper stage was trucked to the Horizontal Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Oct. 27.
The Atlas booster and Centaur will be joined together on the launch pad in time for the arrival of the payload fairing on Nov. 20 – leaving Cygnus poised for liftoff on a new voyage to deliver eagerly awaited supplies and research to the orbiting laboratory.
NASA has opened media accreditation for the fourth commercial resupply services launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft filled with cargo for the International Space Station. The launch is currently targeted for Thursday, Dec. 3 during a 30-minute window that opens at approximately 6 p.m. EST.
The Cygnus will lift off aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida. The mission will be the first flight of the enhanced variant of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus advanced maneuvering spacecraft, capable of delivering more than 7,700 pounds of essential crew supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to the station.
Science payloads include a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria, and other micro-organisms; a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite to be deployed from the space station; experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids and clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel; and evaluations of flame-resistant textiles.
Media prelaunch and launch activities will take place at CCAFS and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. International media without U.S. citizenship must apply for accreditation by Nov. 2 for access to both Kennedy and CCAFS or by Nov. 11 for access only at Kennedy. The deadline for U.S. media to apply for credentials to both Kennedy and CCAFS is Nov. 16, and Nov. 23 for access only to Kennedy.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 15.11.2015

Orbital Sciences preparing for Cygnus rocket launch from Space Coast

The next launch on the Space Coast is just a couple weeks away. It's a cargo run to the International Space Station. And this mission is a series of firsts.
We got up close with the Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo craft full of 7,000 pounds of NASA supplies, science equipment and research, ready to blast off for the ISS soon.
It's called the Deke Slayton, named for the original Mercury astronaut and pioneer of the first privately-funded rocket.
All the work is being done in Kennedy Space Center's Space Station Processing Facility, where past planetary probes, the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's Orion capsule have been readied for launches.
But it's the first time an ISS-bound craft has been worked on inside it.
"It's important we re-start cargo deliveries to the ISS," said Mark Shugg, NASA launch site integration manager.
This launch also marks the return to flight mission for commercial company Orbital Sciences. On October 28, 2014, its cargo ship filled with supplies was lost when their Antares rocket exploded shortly after liftoff from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Not long after, Orbital chose United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket as its substitute vehicle until they get back to flying themselves.
It marks the first time this type of rocket launches a cargo ship to the ISS, and the first time Orbital will launch from Florida.
This also marks the first time cargo is headed to the ISS from American soil since SpaceX's Falcon 9 explosion this past spring.
This current launch is set for Thursday, Dec. 3.
Quelle: NEWS13
Update: 26.11.2015

Assembling Atlas 5 for International Space Station launch

Relive the steps to stack the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral’s Vertical Integration Facility for the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo freighter flight to the International Space Station. The first stage was erected initially, followed by the combined interstage and Centaur upper stage, then the encapsulated payload.Launch is planned for Dec. 3 at 5:55 p.m. EST (2255 GMT).
Quelle: SN, NASA
Update: 30.11.2015

International Space Station and crew awaiting Atlas 5 launch of Cygnus

CAPE CANAVERAL — Lending a helping hand to resume the stalled U.S. supply chain to the International Space Station, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will send a commercial Cygnus cargo craft in pursuit of the outpost Thursday.
With Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket and the SpaceX Falcon 9 both grounded by failures, a pair of Atlas 5 boosters stand ready as gap-fillers to launch Cygnus vessels over the next 100 days from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
SpaceX and Orbital ATK — the two providers under NASA’s privatized Commercial Resupply Services program that took over after retirement of the space shuttles — have been the conveyer belts to ferry cargo, food and new science experiments to the station from U.S. soil since 2012.
But the Antares failure in October 2014 and the Falcon mishap this past June left the station solely dependent on its international partners to carry out resupply in the interim.
Six weeks after the Antares rocket exploded above its Virginia launch pad, destroying the third operational Cygnus, Orbital ATK struck a deal with United Launch Alliance for its first Atlas 5 rocket. The deal to purchase the second Atlas for Cygnus was announced this past August.
The Atlas 5 launches, bought commercially by Orbital ATK, will occur Thursday and March 10, boosting more than 15,000 pounds of cargo to the station on the two flights.
“When we lost Orb-3 (in Oct. 2014), literally the next day we were on the phone to other launch providers. We probably talked to half or two-thirds of all the possible providers in the world about getting a ride for Cygnus,” said Dan Tani, a former astronaut who spent 120 days living and working aboard the station on Expedition 16 and now serves as Orbital ATK’s manager of mission and cargo operations.
“Atlas had the magic mixture of the performance we needed, electrical and mechanical interfaces that we could make compatible with us and, most importantly, they had an open opportunity late in 2015,” Tani said.
The Atlas 5 has flown 59 times since 2002, all successfully, completing 23 flights for the Department of Defense, 12 for the National Reconnaissance Office, 12 for NASA and 12 commercial missions.
“It is very humbling that Orbital ATK and NASA put the confidence in ULA for this critical mission. The new supplies and science need to get there,” said Kevin Leslie, ULA’s OA-4 mission manager.
Financial terms between ULA and Orbital ATK were not disclosed. However, the Atlas rockets cost in excess of $100 million a piece.
But they allow Orbital ATK to fulfill its duties to NASA while working in parallel to redesign its Antares rocket, removing the Soviet-era main engines and replacing them with modern Russian powerplants.
“CRS is one of the biggest contracts we carry in the company, and we have a moral and financial obligation to deliver the cargo to the space station,” Tani said.
The company hopes to complete testing and restart Antares launches from Virginia as early as next May.
Falcon could resume its Dragon capsule flights to the station in early 2016.
“It’s important that we restart cargo deliveries to ISS,” said Randy Gordon of KSC’s International Space Station mission support office.
SpaceX has conducted six successful cargo shipments to the station and Cygnus has done two. This will be the first-ever Atlas 5 rocket launch in support of the International Space Station.
Demo (SS G. David Low) Launched Sept. 18, 2013
CRS-1 (SS C. Gordon Fullerton) Launched Jan. 9, 2014
CRS-2 (SS Janice Voss) Launched July 13, 2014
CRS-3 (SS Deke Slayton I) Launched Oct. 28, 2014 *Failure
Demo Launched May 22, 2012
CRS-1 Launched Oct. 8, 2012
CRS-2 Launched March 1, 2013
CRS-3 Launched April 18, 2014
CRS-4 Launched Sept. 21, 2014
CRS-5 Launched Jan. 10, 2015
CRS-6 Launched April 14, 2015
CRS-7 Launched June 28, 2015 *Failure
OA-4 mission logo. Credit: Orbital ATK
For the upcoming launch, known as OA-4, Cygnus was partially loaded with its payload at Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, the same building where much of the outpost had been readied for space shuttle launches from the late 1990s through 2011.
After the pressurized cargo module and the propulsion tug of Cygnus were mated together, the spacecraft was relocated to KSC’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to be loaded with 1,825 pounds of maneuvering propellant, the final on board stowage of supplies, closure of the hatch and encapsulation within the Atlas 5 rocket’s 45-foot-long, 14-foot-diameter aluminum nose cone, the longest available in that diameter.
Cygnus stands 21 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter, clad in its silver-metallic shielding.
The shrouded freighter then moved to United Launch Alliance’s rocket assembly building at Complex 41 where the two-stage Atlas 5 had been stacked, starting Nov. 11, aboard a mobile launch platform. Cygnus was hoisted atop the rocket on Nov. 20.
The 194-foot-tall Atlas/Cygnus vehicle will be rolled out to the launch pad at 10 a.m. EST on Wednesday and the seven-hour countdown begins late-morning Thursday.
Illustrations of launch window scenarios. Credit: ULA
With a generous 30-minute launch window to work with, opening at 5:55:41 p.m. EST (2255:41 GMT), liftoff is timed to place Cygnus on an orbital path to intercept the station early Sunday morning.
“It is all about available energy to steer you to the right place,” Tani said of the large window.
“There is an ideal launch moment, and that’s what SpaceX targets. A lot of other launch vehicles use excess performance to not have to hit a moment and use that energy to steer to the right place.
“Atlas has so much available energy that they can accommodate what I consider a very large, off-nominal time of launch — 15 minutes early, 15 minutes late. That is a lot of steering, but they have that capability and they are the ones that came to us and asked if they could have that margin. And it gives them a lot of flexibility around weather, around the unknowns.”
The launch team will target liftoff for the earliest possible moment in the window and not wait for the optimum center.
“We target the first launch opportunity. We’ve made that decision because there is no benefit in waiting for the middle of the window. Since they have the energy, we aren’t losing anything, they don’t drop us off lower (in altitude) at the edges of the window than at the middle of the window. They drop us off at the same place. So it’s in our interest to get flying as soon as possible, so we’re targeting the beginning of the window,” Tani explained.
“For the OA-4 mission, the ULA mission design team has worked very closely with the Orbital ATK team to provide a design approach that enables a longer launch window. The OA-4 launch design approach accounts for the fact that the ISS orbit can change shortly before the launch, if either an overall orbit adjustment or evasive debris mitigation maneuver is required,” explained Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president for Atlas and Delta programs.
“Considering the capabilities inherent in the Atlas design, the late changes that can occur in the ISS orbit, and the close coordination with the Orbital ATK Cygnus rendezvous design, we have implemented a 30-minute long window, which will occur within a bounding 50-minute-long window that accounts for the potential late orbital changes for the ISS.”
The launch team will set five discrete launch opportunities — one at the opening of the launch window and four other shots spaced at 7.5 minute intervals.
* 5:55:41 p.m. EST
* 6:03:11 p.m. EST
* 6:10:41 p.m. EST
* 6:18:11 p.m. EST
* 6:25:41 p.m. EST
*times are approximate
Air Force weather forecasters say there is a 60 percent chance of favorable launch conditions. Clouds will be the main concern.
“On launch day, the cold front becomes stationary in South Florida with high moisture and cloudy conditions persisting over Central Florida,” meteorologists say. “There is an isolated shower threat associated with the stalled boundary and a low lightning threat. Winds from the north-northeast with gusts in the mid-teens during the window.”
And getting off the ground as soon as possible has other considerations, too.
“December is an extremely busy time for the space station. There’s a lot of comings and goings with the Russian vehicles. So that restricts our ability to approach. Right now, launch dates of (Dec.) 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th are fantastic. Anything after that we would really have to do some head-scratching and some desk-pounding to figure out when we would approach the space station,” Tani said.
An artist’s concept of Cygnus approaching the station. Credit: NASA
One other scenario is, if the flight is delayed, the Cygnus could launch later and then hang around in orbit for a couple of weeks before the rendezvous.
“We have a couple weeks of loiter capability, so that’s in our box of tricks. But right now, if we miss the 6th, we would have to wait almost a month to get to the station,” Tani said.
December 3
Launch: 5:55:41 p.m. EST
ISS arrival: Dec. 6
December 4
Launch: 5:33 p.m. EST
ISS arrival: Dec. 7 or 8
December 5
Launch: 5:10 p.m. EST
ISS arrival: Dec. 9
December 6
Launch: 4:44 p.m. EST
ISS arrival: Dec. 19
For the two Cygnus launches, the Atlas 5 will fly in its basic, 401 configuration with a four-meter payload fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. This will mark the 30th flight for this Atlas version.
Coming off the launch pad on 860,000 pounds of thrust from the RD-180 main engine, the rocket will head northeast on a 44.4-degree flight azimuth to reach the International Space Station’s orbit.
The first stage will burn for four minutes and 16 seconds before retros push the core away from the Centaur upper stage, which then lights for a 14-minute firing that will put the vehicle into orbit. The shroud is jettisoned shortly after ignition of the Centaur’s RL10C engine that produces 22,900 pounds of thrust.
Deployment of Cygnus from the launch vehicle occurs 21 minutes into flight above the North Atlantic in a 143-statute-mile circular orbit at 51.6 degrees inclination.
Cygnus will be the heaviest Atlas payload ever, weighing 16,517 pounds at liftoff.
T-00:02.7 Main Engine Start
T+00:01.1 Liftoff
T+01:22.6 Mach 1
T+01:33.8 Max Q
T+04:15.6 Main Engine Cutoff
T+04:21.6 Stage Separation
T+04:31.6 Centaur Ignition
T+04:39.6 Nose Cone Jettison
T+18:16.7 Centaur Cutoff
T+21:05.7 Spacecraft Separation
A two-and-a-half-day rendezvous profile is planned, with a long series of precisely scripted engine firings that will lead to the freighter arriving in vicinity of the station early Sunday.
The station’s crew, specifically commander Scott Kelly and NASA flight engineer Kjell Lindgren, will be working at the robotic arm controls inside the multi-window cupola to reach out and grab Cygnus at approximately 5:30 a.m. EST (1030 GMT).
The cargo craft will be berthed to the underside of the Unity connecting module, around 8:50 a.m. EST, for the astronauts to open the hatchway and gain access to the goods packaged inside.
If all goes well, it will be Orbital ATK’s first successful cargo run since July 2014, resuming the company’s contract with NASA to deliver a total of 63,300 pounds of cargo.
“It’s obviously a big launch for us,” Tani said. “A lot is riding on this launch, but a lot is riding on every launch.”
The spacecraft for this mission is named the SS Deke Slayton II, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. After being sidelined by a heart condition and spending years of service for the astronaut office and as director of flight crew operations, Slayton finally flew into space on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, the historic meeting in orbit between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. He passed away in 1993.
This OA-4 Cygnus is carrying 7,383 pounds of provisions to the International Space Station, not counting packing materials. The total mass with packing is 7,745 pounds.
Among the specifics:
-Crew supplies: 2,604 pounds
-Vehicle hardware: 2,220 pounds
-Science utilization: 1,867 pounds
-EVA gear: 500 pounds
-Computer resources: 192 pounds
This is the debut of the Enhanced Cygnus, which features a lengthened pressurized section, produced in Italy by Thales Alenia Space, to increase the interior volume capacity by 25 percent, circular UltraFlex solar arrays, manufactured in Goleta, California, that are lighter and more compact, and updated fuel tanks made with new diaphragm technology for better control of propellant.
“The most obvious enhancement is the larger cargo module, but there are other enhancements that are smaller and mainly intended to save weight,” Tani said.
The changes to Cygnus enable the vessel to launch 2,600 pounds more cargo than the previous spacecraft version.
The cargo container is a smaller diameter version of the Italian-made Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules that flew up and down on space shuttles to outfit the station.
“Sort of like the iPad and the iPad mini. They are pretty indistinguishable,” Tani said.The spacecraft will remain parked at the space station through Jan. 25 to be loaded with about 3,000 pounds of trash, packing materials and other waste. After being unberthed from the station, Cygnus will fly away and reenter the atmosphere for disposal.
Quelle: SN
Update: 30.11.2015

Forecast: 60 Percent Chance of Acceptable Conditions

The launch day forecast remains at 60 percent “go” for the liftoff of an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EST. The primary concerns are cumulus clouds, disturbed weather and thick clouds at launch time. Our launch coverage on the NASA Blog and on NASA TV will begin at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Flying from Space Launch Complex 41, the rocket and spacecraft have a 30-minute window to be able to launch and meet up with the International Space Station in orbit. The Cygnus, an enhanced version carrying more materials than the standard models that flew before, is loaded with more than 7,300 pounds of equipment, supplies and experiments for the station and its crew. Some of the Cygnus payloads will contribute directly to research by astronaut Scott Kelly during his one-year mission on the station. This flight also includes other science cargo include a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite to be deployed from the station.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 1.12.2015

NASA TV Coverage Set for Orbital ATK Resupply Mission to Space Station

NASA commercial partner Orbital ATK has set Thursday, Dec. 3, for the launch of its fourth contracted mission to the International Space Station under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services...

Quelle: ULA
Update: 3.12.2015
Launch Day for Cygnus – Forecast Remains 60 percent ‘Go’
Pending real-time updates during today’s countdown, the 45th Weather Squadron forecast remains 60 percent favorable for the liftoff of Orbital ATK’s S.S. Deke Slayton II Cygnus spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 5:55:45 p.m. EST. NASA Television launch coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. This is the company’s fourth scheduled cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
A launch today will result in the Cygnus spacecraft arriving at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 6. NASA crew members Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at approximately 5:30 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple of Cygnus will begin at 4 a.m. Cygnus will be the first cargo ship to be berthed to the Earth-facing port on the Unity module. Coverage of Cygnus’ installation will begin at 7:15 a.m.
If the launch does not occur on today, the next launch opportunity would be at 5:33 p.m. tomorrow, resulting in a grapple and berthing on Dec. 7. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Quelle: NASA
Quelle: Orbital ATK
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