Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) of Dulles, Va., has engaged top aerospace organizations in the United States and from across the globe to help develop the Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus cargo spacecraft for upcoming space station cargo resupply missions. This approach supports timely and cost effective development of their new commercial cargo transportation system and is consistent with the National Space Policy of the United States which has a goal to “expand international cooperation on mutually beneficial space activities”.
Orbital is the Antares prime integrator and has overall responsibility for systems engineering and integration, avionics development, software, guidance/navigation and control, primary structure, testing, verification and operations.
Orbital is working with KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine for design, production and verification of the propellant tanks and associated pressurization system used on the first stage of the launch vehicle. The first stage engines are being provided by Aerojet and are updated NK-33s, originally manufactured by the Kuznetsov Design Bureau for the Soviet Union N-1 rocket program. The second stage incorporates a solid rocket motor provided by Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) of Minneapolis, Minn. The payload separation system is procured from Ruag of Sweden, a world leader in design and production of low-shock separation devices.
The Cygnus spacecraft Service Module is designed and integrated by Orbital. Components for the Cygnus spacecraft are a combination of internally manufactured and subcontracted hardware from various countries. The Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM), for example, was designed and is being manufactured by Thales Alenia Space in Torino Italy, who also developed the International Space Station MPLM (Multi-Purpose Logistics Module). Orbital also contracted with other non-U.S. suppliers including Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO) of Tokyo Japan for the Proximity Location System and Dutch Space of the Netherlands for its solar arrays.
All elements will come together at the Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. in preparation for upcoming ground tests and flight planned for the next few months.