Orbital Sciences Corp. on Oct. 18 said its new Antares rocket will not launch its Cygnus cargo freighter on a demonstration flight to the international space station until around March or April, assuming that two preceding rocket tests occur without a hitch.
In a conference call with investors, Orbital officials did not attribute the fresh delay of the NASA-funded program, of three or four months compared to its last quarterly update, to any particular event….
Orbital Chief Executive David W. Thompson said propellant-loading tests of the Antares rocket’s first stage on the Wallops Island launch pad will start the week of Oct. 21. Assuming no hiccups in this procedure, the first stage will be test-fired for 30 seconds on the pad in early November.
A successful engine-firing test will lead to the preparation of a full Antares rocket for a test flight, without the Cygnus cargo vehicle, in December.
Thompson said the demonstration flight to the international space station, this time with Cygnus, would then occur late in the first quarter of 2013 or early in the second quarter, depending on the station’s traffic schedule and on Antares’ status.
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