Orbital ATK Antares-Cygnus Flight Delayed to September

Antares rolled out for hot fire in May 2016. (Credit: Orbital ATK)
Antares rolled out for hot fire in May 2016. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Orbital ATK Mission Update
August 10, 2016

Orbital ATK completed a stage test at the end of May and final data review has confirmed the test was successful, clearing the way for the Antares return to flight. Simultaneously, the company has been conducting final integration and check out of the flight vehicle that will launch the OA-5 mission to ensure that all technical, quality and safety standards are met or exceeded.

Due to a variety of interrelated factors, including the company’s continuing processing, inspection and testing of the flight vehicle at Wallops Island, and NASA’s scheduling of crew activities on the International Space Station in preparation for upcoming cargo and crew launches, Orbital ATK is currently working with NASA to target a window in the second half of September for the launch of the OA-5 mission. A more specific launch date will be identified in the coming weeks.

To date, Orbital ATK has carried out five cargo logistics mission for NASA under the COTS and CRS programs.

About the Mission

For the OA-5 mission, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus advanced maneuvering spacecraft will carry approximately 2,400 kg (5,290 lbs.) of supplies and science experiments for the International Space Station (ISS). Under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA, Orbital ATK will deliver approximately 28,700 kilograms of cargo to the space station. OA-5 is the sixth of these missions.

Cygnus will be launched into orbit using Orbital ATK’s upgraded Antares 230 launch vehicle from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The Antares 230 vehicle features all new RD-181 engines which provide increased performance and flexibility to the Orbital ATK cargo delivery service.

After being launched into low-Earth orbit, the Cygnus spacecraft will use its substantial maneuvering capability to transport the cargo from a low parking orbit to the ISS where it will be grappled by the station’s crew using the station’s robotic arm and berthed to the station. After the cargo is removed and any disposal items are added, Cygnus will depart from the ISS, and begin secondary payload missions.

For the OA-5 mission, Cygnus will carry the Saffire II payload experiment to study combustion behavior in microgravity. Data from this experiment will be downloaded via telemetry. In addition, a NanoRack deployer will release Spire Cubesats used for weather forecasting. These secondary payload operations will be conducted after Cygnus departs the space station.

S.S. Alan G. Poindexter

The Cygnus spacecraft for the OA-5 space station cargo resupply mission is named in honor of former astronaut and Naval Aviator Captain Alan Poindexter. Selected for NASA’s astronaut program in 1998, he flew on two space shuttle missions during his career as an astronaut. Learn more about Alan Poindexter here.