Orbital Sciences Corporation will roll out its Antares launch vehicle at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Saturday in advance of its maiden launch scheduled for between April 17 and 19. Meanwhile, technicians have successfully mated the first Cygnus pressurized cargo vehicle with its service module for launch on a subsequent flight.
The rollout of Antares at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) will begin at approximately 4:45 a.m. EDT. Operators will begin to raise the rocket to a vertical position on Pad-0A beginning at 6 a.m. That procedure will take two to three hours to complete.
Antares will launch a heavily-instrumented Cygnus mass simulator into orbit as part of Orbital’s work under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation (COTS) program. The simulator provide valuable data for a Cygnus demonstration flight that will be flown to the International Space Station later this year.
After Orbital has successfully demonstrated this capability, it will begin flying a series of eight cargo resupply mission to the orbital laboratory under a separate Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.
Orbital reached a major milestone for the demo flight on Tuesday when the Cygnus pressurized cargo module was attached to its service module at the Wallops processing facility. The cargo module was recently loaded with a token load of cargo for its first flight to the space station.
Technicians will connect a series of harnesses and perform a series of tests to verify that the spacecraft’s systems are functioning properly. The Cygnus will then be prepared for transportation to a fueling facility.
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