Spaceflight Now reports that the schedule has slipped for Orbital Sciences Corporation’s test flights of the Taurus II rocket and the Cygnus freighter designed to resupply the International Space Station. The current schedule is:
- Taurus II without Cygnus — July to September 2011
- Taurus II with Cygnus — Two or three months later
- Taurus II with Cygnus to ISS: Early 2012
OSC had been originally aiming to launch the first Taurus II in March 2011. However, that schedule had slipped several months already.
The website reports that:
A significant chunk of the delay stems from the Taurus 2’s specially-built launch infrastructure at Wallops. Orbital is building a new launch pad, water tower and horizontal integration building on the Virginia coast.
“By the end of the year, the horizontal integration facility, the launch pad and the propellant and gas supply facility will be nearing completing and beginning the test and certification activity,” said J.R. Thompson, Orbital’s vice chairman and chief operating officer…
Orbital is planning a demonstration flight of the Taurus 2 rocket between July and September of 2011, assuming the company receives augmentation funding outlined in NASA’s budget blueprint passed by Congress and signed into law in late September.
Congress has not acted on a final fiscal year 2011 budget yet, so the availability of the extra money is unclear. But Orbital officials say an additional test flight will increase the chances of a successful cargo flight in early 2012.
Read the full story.