DULLES, VA, 9 January 2014 (OSC PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced it successfully launched its Antares™ medium-class rocket carrying the first of eight Cygnus™ cargo logistics spacecraft missions to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. The launch of Orbital’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft will culminate in rendezvous and berthing with the ISS on Sunday, January 12 at approximately 6:00 a.m. (EST).
Cygnus will deliver approximately 2,780 lbs. (1,260 kg.) of cargo to the Expedition 38 astronauts and remain attached to the station until February 18 before departing with approximately 2,800 lbs. (1,300 kg.) of disposable cargo for a safe, destructive reentry over the Pacific Ocean.
Lift-off of Orbital’s Antares rocket occurred today at 1:07 p.m. (EST) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. Following a 10-minute ascent, the Cygnus spacecraft was successfully deployed by the Antares upper stage and placed into its intended orbit of about 135 x 175 miles (220 X 280 km) above the Earth, inclined at 51.6 degrees to the equator. Approximately 25 minutes later, Orbital’s engineering team confirmed that reliable communications had been established and that the solar arrays were fully deployed, providing the necessary electrical power to command the spacecraft.
“It was another excellent launch of Antares, and so far, our first CRS mission is off to a great start with Cygnus operating exactly as anticipated at this early stage of the mission,” said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our team has put in a lot of hard work to get to the point of performing regular ISS cargo delivery trips for NASA. It’s an exciting day for all of us and I’m looking forward to completing this and our future CRS missions safely and successfully for our NASA customer.”
Under a $1.9 billion CRS contract with NASA, Orbital will use Antares and Cygnus to deliver up to 44,000 pounds (20,000 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS over eight missions through late 2016. For these missions, NASA will manifest a variety of essential items based on ISS program needs, including food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts and equipment, and scientific experiments.
Orbital privately developed the Antares launch vehicle to provide low-cost, reliable access to space for medium-class payloads. It is the largest and most complex rocket the company has ever produced. Under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) joint research and development initiative with NASA, Orbital also developed the Cygnus spacecraft, which is an advanced maneuvering vehicle that meets the stringent human-rated safety requirements for ISS operations. Together, these products showcase Orbital’s ability to apply rigorous engineering approaches and commercial business practices to significantly shorten development timelines and lower operational costs of sophisticated space systems as compared to traditional government-run programs.
The Antares medium-class launch vehicle will provide a major increase in the payload launch capability that Orbital can provide to NASA, the U.S. Air Force and commercial customers. The Antares rocket will launch spacecraft weighing up to 14,000 lbs. into low-Earth orbit, as well as lighter-weight payloads into higher-energy orbits. Orbital’s newest launcher is currently on-ramped to both the NASA Launch Services-2 and the U.S. Air Force’s Orbital/Suborbital Program-3 contracts, enabling the two largest U.S. government space launch customers to order Antares for “right-size and right-price” launch services for medium-class spacecraft. For more information on Antares, visit http://www.orbital.com/SpaceLaunch/Antares/.
Orbital developed the Cygnus cargo spacecraft as part of its COTS joint research and development initiative with NASA. Cygnus consists of a common Service Module (SM) and a Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM). The SM incorporates avionics, power and propulsion systems already successfully flown aboard dozens of Orbital’s LEOStar™ and GEOStar™ satellite products. The PCM, designed and built by Thales Alenia Space under a subcontract from Orbital, is based on the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) used with the Space Shuttle. For more information on Cygnus, visit http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/Publications/Cygnus_fact.pdf.
Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S. Government agencies and laboratories. More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com. Follow the company on Twitter @OrbitalSciences.