Orbital Sciences Corporation announced today that its new Taurus II rocket will not fly in December as planned due to delays at its new launch complex in Virginia:
The company achieved important milestones in its Taurus II and Cygnus development programs in the last three months. Highlights included the delivery of the first pressurized cargo module for the Cygnus spacecraft to the Wallops Island launch site and the resumption of Taurus II main rocket engine testing with a successful hot-fire operation of an AJ26 engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in September. However, continued delays in completing construction and certification of the Wallops Island launch complex are expected to result in an approximately two-month schedule delay for the first Taurus II test flight, moving it from late December 2011 to late February or early March 2012.
Orbital had planned to launch the rocket with a dummy payload in December and to follow up with a demonstration flight of its Cygnus freighter to the International Space Station about two months later. The program is being funded by NASA under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. The two flights are required before Orbital can begin delivery cargo to the station on a commercial basis.