Ukraine Ships First Stage of OSC’s Taurus II to Virginia

The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Taurus II vehicle is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)

Ukraine has shipped the first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Taurus II rocket to the United States. has reported.”The assembly of the basic part of the first stage of the booster was completed at the Makarov Yuzhny Machine Building Plant in October. The cargo left the port of Oktiabrsk in Mykolaiv region for the Wallops Flight Facility,” the Yuzhnoye State Design Office said in a statement.

OSC will use Taurus II to deliver cargo to the International Space Station with its Cygnus freighter. The rocket’s first stage AJ-26 engines are modifications of the old Soviet NK-33 lunar rockets. The second stage is American, and the components for the Cygnus freighter are being supplied by U.S. and Italian companies. The vehicle will have its first test flight from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in the middle of next year. The effort is being subsidized by NASA under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

The first shipment from Ukraine comes about a month after a ceremony in which OSC project manager Michael Hill signed a certificate of acceptance for the stage. A Yuzhnoye press release dated Oct. 12 describes the event:

On the State Enterprise “Production Association Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant named after A.M. Makarov” there was completed basic design assembly of the first stage of launch vehicle Taurus II, the program manager Michael Hill spoke before the work participants. He said that successful audit of acceptance was conducted and the official certificate of product acceptance was signed.

OSC and Yuzhnoye officials shake hands during the acceptance of the first Taurus II first stage. (Credit: Yuzhnoye)

Mr. Hill noted that he had watched with admiration for the product assembly work: “I feel great satisfaction when I see what we have created for three-year joint work.”

Design Bureau Yuzhnoye had released conceptual design of a stage in 2007, this project was defended in 2008, contract with Yuzhmash was singed in 2008. For 15 months there was carried out work from the material cutting to finished product. In the United States at the Wallace spaceport the launch vehicle testing is being prepared.

The General Director of Yuzhmash Shchegol V.A., chief engineer Dukov V.I., general designer – general director of Yuzhnoye Degtyarev A.V., first deputy general designer Mashchenko A.N. and Michael Hill signed act that Yuzhmash, Yuzhnoye and Orbital allows to send product to the U.S.

Alexander Degtyarev noted international significance of this project, which will ensure cargo delivery to the International Space Station, also thanked management of Orbital for the successful cooperation and expressed gratitude to Yuzhmash for productive work on stage manufacture.

Victor Shchegol accented on international team friendly work on the launch vehicles development.

The traditional champagne bottle was smashed on the vehicle.

A Yuzhnoye official prepares to smash a champagne bottle against the side of the first Taurus II first stage. (Credit: Yuzhnoye
A Yuzhnoye official prepares to smash a champagne bottle against the side of the first Taurus II first stage. (Credit: Yuzhnoye)

Chief of general assembly plant Viktor Denisov gave the command to dispatch the transport with the main design of the first stage of launch vehicle.

The basic construction of the first stage of launch vehicle was successfully departed from the general assembly plant.

Work on Taurus II is being continued: vibration strength testing is being conducted, automation system is being worked out, preparation of the next stage sample construction was started.