NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A will see its first flight in nearly six years in mid-February when a SpaceX Falcon 9 launches a Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station.
The California-based company announced over the weekend that the launch of the EchoStar 23 communications satellite, set to be the first from the renovated pad, would be delayed until after the CRS-10 Dragon supply flight.
SpaceX is leasing the historic launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center under a 20-year agreement with NASA. The company has been modifying the launch complex for launches of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters.
SpaceX’s main launch complex at the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been out of action since September when a Falcon 9 caught fire and exploded as it was being fueled for a pre-flight engine test. Repairs are still under way.
Pad 39A last saw a launch in July 2011 with the 135th and final space shuttle mission. Atlantis flew a nearly 13-day logistics flight to the space station. Prior to the start of the shuttle program in 1981, the complex hosted Saturn V launches for the Apollo program.
Statement from Space Florida President Frank DiBello Regarding President-Elect Donald Trump
“On behalf of Space Florida, I welcome President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration and look forward to continuing our positive relationship with NASA. I have been encouraged by what I have heard of President-Elect Donald Trump’s plans for our national space program. As the incoming administration develops policies and priorities for the upcoming term, Space Florida encourages President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration to sustain the balance of programs of record, including NASA’s Commercial Cargo and Crew programs, Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), and affiliated Ground Systems Development and Operations.
Collectively, these programs sustain the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida, this nation’s premier gateway to a great future in space.” (more…)
Despite the successful return to flight of its Antares booster less than three weeks ago, Orbital ATK will launch its next Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station aboard an United Launch Alliance Atlas V.
“Orbital ATK has responded to NASA’s needs for enhanced schedule assurance for cargo deliveries and maximum capacity of critical supplies to the space station in 2017,” the company said in a statement.
Orbital ATK’s revamped Antares booster blasted off from Wallops Island, Va., tonight, placing a Cygnus cargo ship bound for the International Space Station into orbit.
Antares made a spectacular nighttime return to flight after being grounded for nearly two years following the explosion of a similar booster in October 2014 that destroyed a Cygnus supply ship.
That failure was blamed on a turbo pump in one of the first stage AJ26 engines, which had been left over from the Soviet Union’s manned lunar program of the early 1970’s.
Orbital ATK has spent nearly two years re-configuring the first stage with newly manufactured RD-181 engines produced by NPO Energomash of Russia. Those engines did their job this evening, getting Antares and Cygnus airborne before giving way to the second stage powered by the CASTOR 30XL engine.
Cygnus is carrying 5,100 lbs worth of equipment, supplies and experiments to astronauts aboard the space station under a contract with NASA.
This is the fifth commercial Cygnus flight to the space station. The first two missions were launched by Antares. While the booster was grounded, Orbital ATK launched a pair of the cargo ships aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V boosters.
Launch: October 17, 2016; 7:40 p.m. EDT Launch Site: MARS Pad 0A, Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia Mission Customer: NASA
Today’s launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket is postponed 24 hours due to a ground support equipment (GSE) cable that did not perform as expected during the pre-launch check out. We have spares on hand and rework procedures are in process. The Antares and Cygnus teams are not currently working any technical issues with the rocket or the spacecraft.
The Antares booster set to lift off on Sunday evening is a re-engineered version of a launch vehicle that exploded spectacularly after launch nearly two years ago.
The key change is the replacement of two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-26 engines in the first stage with RD-181 engines produced by NPO Energomash of Russia. The new engines are powered by liquid oxygen (LOX) and kerosene.
Update: The mission has been postponed to no earlier than Sunday, Oct. 16 at 8:03 p.m. EDT due to hurricane Nicole.
Mission Update – October 10, 2016
Launch Site: MARS Pad 0A, Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia Mission Customer: NASA
In coordination with its NASA customer, Orbital ATK has rescheduled the launch of the OA-5 CRS mission for Friday, October 14. The updated schedule now includes roll-out of the Antares rocket to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launch pad on Wednesday, October 12. Liftoff of the Antares rocket on October 14 is planned for 8:51 p.m. (EDT), with the rendezvous of the “S.S. Alan Poindexter” Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft with the International Space Station expected at approximately 6:05 a.m. (EDT) on Monday, October 17.
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.
In October 2014, NASA engineers were deeply worried about Orbital Sciences Corporation’s upcoming Orb-3 commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
An Antares booster was set to send a Cygnus cargo ship loaded with 2,215 kg (4,883 lb) of supplies to astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory. It would be the third of eight Cygnus flights to the station under a Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1) contract worth $1.9 billion.
NASA’s Response to SpaceX’s June 2015 Launch Failure: Impacts on Commercial Resupply of the International Space Station [Full Report]
NASA Office of the Inspector General June 28, 2016
Why We Performed This Audit
On June 28, 2015, just 2 minutes after liftoff, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) seventh cargo resupply mission (SPX-7) to the International Space Station (ISS or Station) failed, destroying $118 million of NASA cargo, including an International Docking Adapter (Adapter) the Agency planned to use when it begins flying astronauts to the Station on commercial vehicles. In the aftermath of the failure, SpaceX suspended resupply missions pending completion of an investigation into its cause, relicensing of its launch vehicle by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and acceptance by NASA of the company’s corrective actions.
DULLES, Va., 31 May 2016 (Orbital ATK PR) -– Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced it conducted a full-power “hot fire” test of the upgraded first stage propulsion system of its Antares medium-class rocket using new RD-181 main engines.
The 30-second test took place at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on May 31, 2016 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A. Initial indications are that the test was fully successful.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:51 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 11, about 261 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, with more than 3,700 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship is ending its stay tomorrow at the International Space Station. The commercial cargo craft has been packed with about 3,700 pounds of cargo, spacewalk gear and biological samples for analysis on Earth.
Astronauts Tim Peake and Jeff Williams will be at the controls of the Canadarm2 robotic arm when the command to release Dragon is given at 9:18 a.m. EDT/1:18 p.m. UTC. Dragon will parachute to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later for recovery by SpaceX personnel. NASA TV will televise the release and departure activities starting at 9 a.m.
While the astronauts in the U.S. segment loaded Dragon, their Russian counterparts conducted research exploring diverse fields such as physics, biology and human research. They researched how space radiation affects materials that simulate human tissue for the long-running Matryeshka study. The crew also looked at how the space environment affects a crew member’s carotid artery and immune system.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA provider SpaceX is scheduled to launch its eighth Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station on Friday, April 8. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is targeted to lift off on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket at 4:43 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida, carrying science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory in support of the Expedition 47 and 48 crews.