Tag: Orbital ATK

Space Angels Network Opposes Removing Limits on ICBM Motors

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Minotaur I launch. (Credit: NASA)

Minotaur I launch. (Credit: NASA)

The Space Angels Network has been lobbying against an amendment to the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would allow greater use of excess ICBM motors for commercial satellite launches. The network says the measure would benefit one company, Orbital ATK, whose Minotaur line of boosters uses these motor,  at the expense of an emerging commercial small-satellite launch industry.

The use of ICBM motors are liimited to launches where commercial alternatives are unavailable. The amendment would remove that restriction.

A letter the network sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee is reproduced below.

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Next Cygnus Resupply Mission Set for March

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The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Orbital ATK has completed a significant mission milestone for NASA’s next International Space Station cargo mission.

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Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

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The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

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There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.
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USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016

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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

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The United States and China led the world in orbital launch attempts in 2016 with 22 apiece. The combined 44 launches made up more than half of the 85 flights conducted around the world.

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NASA’s Exploration Year in Review

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BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2016, NASA drove advances in technology, science, aeronautics and space exploration that enhanced the world’s knowledge, innovation, and stewardship of Earth.

“This past year marked record-breaking progress in our exploration objectives,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We advanced the capabilities we’ll need to travel farther into the solar system while increasing observations of our home and the universe, learning more about how to continuously live and work in space, and, of course, inspiring the next generation of leaders to take up our Journey to Mars and make their own discoveries.”
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NASA Earth Science Mission Hampered by Budget, Launcher Issues

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Earth_from_Orbit
Although NASA’s Earth Science Division is substantially meeting stakeholder’s needs for Earth observation data, the space agency has fallen behind on launching an ambitious series of missions planned out nearly a decade ago, according to an Office of Inspector General (IG) report released last month.

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Space Florida Approves Minotaur Launches From Florida

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minotaur4

Minotaur IV booster

The Space Florida Board of Directors last week approved a plan to allow Orbital ATK to use Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46) at Cape Canaveral for Minotaur launches. The board instructed staff members to complete negotiations and enter into a contract with the Virginia-based company.

The board’s approval clears the way for Orbital ATK to launch the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Operationally Responsive Space’s ORS-5 SensorSat spacecraft in mid-2017.

SensorSat will be launched aboard a Minotaur IV rocket under a $23.6 million contract.

“The risks associated with operating the site and launching the vehicle are born by [Orbital ATK],” according to the board’s meeting agenda. “The Company will pay a reimbursement fee to Space Florida for all fees and costs incurred by Space Florida associated with the use of the Premises.”

SLC-46 increases the locations where Minotaur rockets can be launched to four. Orbital ATK has launch facilities for the booster in Virginia, California and Alaska.

Space Florida is eyeing SLC-46 for other launches, including or a test of the Orion abort system in 2019.

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Orbital ATK’s Pegasus Launches NASA CYGNSS Spacecraft

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Stargazer aircraft carrying Pegasus XL rocket with CYGNSS satellite. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Stargazer aircraft carrying Pegasus XL rocket with CYGNSS satellite. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

DULLES, Va. (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that its Pegasus® rocket successfully launched the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) satellite for NASA. The successful launch was the 29th consecutive successful mission for the Pegasus rocket since 1997 and the 43rd overall flight of the world’s first privately developed commercial rocket.

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Pegasus XL Launches 8 Satellites to Track Hurricanes

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Video Caption: NASA successfully launched eight small satellites that will provide scientists with advanced technology to see inside tropical storms and hurricanes like never before. Called the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), the constellation of eight microsatellite observatories launched Dec. 15 aboard an Orbital ATK air-launched Pegasus XL launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket was dropped and launched from Orbital’s Stargazer L-1011 aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of central Florida.

NASA Will Take 2 Years to Complete Investigation into 2015 Falcon 9 Failure

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Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

NASA’s investigation into the Falcon 9 launch failure that destroyed a Dragon cargo ship in June 2015 keeps getting more and more interesting.

I checked in again last week with the space agency about when it would be releasing a public report on the 18-month old accident. This is what a NASA spokesperson told me (emphasis mine):

NASA’s final report on the SpaceX CRS-7 mishap is still in work. While the report is important in providing NASA historical data of the mishap, the accident involved a version of the Falcon 9 rocket that is no longer in use. Furthermore, while the public summary itself may only be a few pages, the complete report is expected to exceed several hundred pages of highly detailed and technical information restricted by U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations and company-sensitive proprietary information. As a result, NASA anticipates its internal report and public summary will be finalized in the summer 2017.

That is a rather long time, even for a sometimes pokey government agency investigating the failure of a booster variant no longer in use.
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USAF Awards Minotaur I Launch Contract to Orbital ATK

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Minotaur I launch. (Credit: NASA)

Minotaur I launch. (Credit: NASA)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Rocket Systems Launch Program, part of the Launch Enterprise Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), awarded the National Reconnaissance Office Launch-111 contract to Orbital ATK.

The contract is a firm-fixed-price contract valued at $29.2 million for a Minotaur I launch vehicle. This was the first such award under the Orbital/Suborbital Program 3 (OSP-3) Lane 1 capability. The OSP-3 contract Lane 1 capability is for 400-4,000 lbs. (181-1,810 kg) to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) and long-range, sub-orbital missions.

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Orbital ATK Expands Launch Vehicle Operations in Arizona

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orbital_ATK_logoCHANDLER, ARIZ. (Dec. 1, 2016) – Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and Orbital ATK, one of the world’s leading aerospace and defense technology firms, today announced the expansion of the company’s Launch Vehicles Division operations into an additional facility in Chandler, Arizona.

Subject to Chandler City Council approvals, Orbital ATK will be moving into the Allred Park Place along Chandler’s Price Corridor, known for being home to leading edge companies focused on advanced business services, aerospace, life sciences, sustainable and high technology research and manufacturing.

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Orbital ATK to Develop Critical Technology for In-Orbit Assembly Through NASA Partnership

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orbital_ATK_logoDULLES, Va., 29 November 2016 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that it has begun a public-private partnership with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) to establish a Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services (CIRAS) in space. The CIRAS program will advance key technologies for in-orbit manufacturing and assembly of large space structures that will help the agency meet its goals for robotic and human exploration of the solar system.

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NanoRacks Completes Above Space Station Cygnus CubeSat Deployment

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The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) – On November 25, 2016 NanoRacks successfully deployed four Spire LEMUR-2 CubeSats from Orbital-ATK’s Cygnus Cargo Vehicle from a 500-kilometer orbit, flying high above the International Space Station (ISS) in the first mission of its kind.

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NASA Sets Space Fire in Second Round of Fire Safety Experiments

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Sample 7 of the Saffire-II Experiment consists partially of Nomex, a commercially available, flame-resistant material.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Fire safety is a crucial component of space living. As we partner with industry and international space agencies to develop deep space habitation capabilities, we are leveraging every opportunity to validate important habitation-related systems and operations in low-Earth orbit. The second Spacecraft Fire Safety experiment, or Saffire-II, is a fire experiment with nine material swatches that will be ignited in a cargo ship as it orbits Earth. Saffire-II is the second in a series of three fire safety experiments, and builds on the data captured during Saffire-I with an expanded test portfolio of new materials.

Saffire-II launched on OA-5 in October 2016. The nine samples in the experiment kit aboard the Cygnus cargo vehicle include a cotton-fiberglass blend, Nomex, and the same acrylic glass that is used for spacecraft windows. After the spacecraft departs the station, and before its destructive reentry to Earth, mission controllers on the ground will remotely ignite the samples.

Saffire-II mission updates will be added below as data and imagery are returned from the orbiting Cygnus vehicle.

UPDATE

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2106
All updates are posted in Eastern Standard Time

6:00 p.m: The Saffire team has successfully downlinked images from the nine samples tested in Saffire-II. The first sample has a thin sheet of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), also known as plexiglass, that is being used to ignite Nomex, a commercially available, flame-resistant material that is used on spacecraft for cargo storage bags and as a fire barrier. The second sample is a plexiglass sheet (5 cm wide x 29 cm long x 10 cm wide), a material that is used for spacecraft windows. The Saffire investigators will continue to downlink data and images on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and provide additional updates as they are available.

UPDATE

Monday, Nov. 21, 2016
All updates are posted in Eastern Standard Time

9:30 p.m.: All nine samples have burned and preliminary telemetry indicate that data and images were recorded as expected for all 9 samples and flow visualization. The Saffire-II hardware performed very well and there were no issues. The team will spend tonight downlinking the sensor and image data and begin analysis of the dataset tomorrow morning. Updates on Tuesday will include preliminary sensor data and images from the burns.

8:04 p.m.: Samples 1-6 have been ignited and we’ve captured more than 106,000 images. Samples 1-4 were a silicon material at different thicknesses. Samples 5 and 6 were the same cotton-fiberglass blend that was burned on Saffire-I; one was at the same flow speed as Saffire-I and the other was at the flow speed planned for Saffire-III. Samples 7-9 up next! The images will be downlinked to Orbital ATK overnight and transferred to researchers at NASA-GRC for analysis tomorrow. Initial images will be released as they are available.

7:14 p.m.: We’ve received confirmation that the first Saffire-II test sample has been ignited.

6:04 p.m.: Orbital ATK has confirmed that the Saffire-II experiment is powered and we are receiving telemetry. We remain on track for a 7:00 p.m. sample ignition.

8:22 a.m.: Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency commanded the International Space Station’s Candadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft.