Orbital Sciences to Develop Cygnus Crew Spacecraft

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Orbital Plans to Develop Cygnus-Based Crew Capsule
Space News

Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp. is throwing its hat into NASA’s commercial-crew transport ring with plans to develop a crew capsule based on the company’s Cygnus cargo module, according to industry sources.

Cygnus and its Taurus 2 medium-class launcher are currently in development with help from $171 million in NASA funding won in February 2008 under the agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration program. NASA in December awarded Orbital a $1.9 billion contract for resupply missions to the international space station…

Beneski said a crew variant of Orbital’s Cygnus pressurized cargo module capable of carrying three or four astronauts, along with a human-rated version of Taurus 2, could be developed at a cost of $2 billion to $3 billion.

One industry source identified Boeing as a potential partner in the effort, which would involve adding a new liquid-hydrogen second stage to the Taurus 2, giving it the thrust needed to carry around 8 metric tons to the space station. This would accommodate an Apollo-sized capsule based on the Cygnus cargo vehicle design along with a service module.

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