VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA and Northrop Grumman currently are preparing the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft and the Pegasus XL rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for ferry to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft on Oct. 1, 2019.
The launch has been rescheduled to Oct. 10, 2019, following the completion of a joint NASA/Northrop Grumman investigation into a Pegasus sensor reading that was not within normal limits during previous ferry and launch attempt flights. The cause of the issue is understood, and the flight hardware has been modified to address the issue.
IUKA, Miss. (Northrop Grumman PR) — In a small Mississippi town, a group of scientists and engineers recently gathered to discuss their next project: building large aerospace composite structures for Northrop Grumman’s new OmegA rocket. OmegA is being designed to launch the U.S. Air Force’s most critical spacecraft for U.S. national security missions.
DULLES, Virginia, 16 April 2018 (Orbital ATK PR) — During the 34th annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today provided a detailed update on the important progress being made on its Next Generation Launch System.
California’s Franchise Tax Board is seeking public comment on a proposed new tax that would fall upon ULA, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and other companies launching spacecraft from within the state.
The levy would apply to companies “that generates more than 50 percent of its gross receipts from the provision of space transportation activity for compensation in a taxable year,” the proposal states. Space is defined as 62 statute miles (100 km) or more above Earth. (more…)
Stratolaunch has revamped its website with some new photos of its gigantic carrier aircraft under construction at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
The twin fuselage airplane will be the largest aircraft in the world, with a 385-foot wing span. Powered by six Boeing 747 engines, the aircraft will have a payload of more than 500,000 lbs. (226,796 kg) and an operational range of approximately 2,000 nautical miles (3,715 km).
The Stratolaunch aircraft is designed to air launch launch vehicles. The company has an agreement with Orbital ATK to use its Pegasus small-satellite booster.
In March, billionaire backer Paul Allen has said he hopes the carrier aircraft will make its first flight test by the end of the year.
NASA officials have been providing updates this week on agency programs and missions during the 2016 Small Satellite Conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it. I have pulled together summaries of their presentations drawn from Twitter. Information has come from the following Tweeters:
SAN ANTONIO (SwRI PR) — NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission took another major step last month as the eight CYGNSS microsatellites successfully completed functional and environmental testing of their systems and software. The mission is on track for launch in late 2016.
CYGNSS will probe the inner core of hurricanes in greater detail to better understand their rapid intensification.
Recently, there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle over the use of surplus intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to launch satellites. Orbital ATK would like to lift the ban on using them to launch commercial satellites, the U.S. Air Force would like to find a way to sell the engines, and an emerging commercial launch industry that doesn’t want what it considers government-subsidized competition.
Now, you’ve probably been wondering a few things. What does Orbital ATK do with these engines? What does it launch on them? And what launch vehicles are in operation or in development to compete with these boosters?
Those are all great questions. And now the answers.
At the Space Tech Expo last week in Long Beach, Calif., representatives from Arianespace, Orbital Sciences Corporation, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) discussed the fierce competition in the industry and their plans for the future.
Carissa Christensen Managing Partner The Tauri Group (Moderator)
Gwynne Shotwell President & Chief Operating Officer SpaceX
Daniel J Collins Chief Operating Officer United Launch Alliance
Clay Mowry President Arianespace
Frank Culbertson Executive Vice President Orbital Sciences Corporation
Dulles, VA, 1 April 2014 (Orbital PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded the company a contract to launch the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) multi-satellite mission aboard a Pegasus XL rocket carried aloft by Orbital’s “Stargazer” L-1011 aircraft. The CYGNSS mission is scheduled to launch in October 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Continuing our look at U.S. launch vehicles, we turn our spotlight onto Orbital Sciences Corporation. Although the Virginia company is traditionally a supplier of small launch vehicles, it recently made the leap to medium-lift rockets.
Orbital currently operates four launch vehicles:
Pegasus, an air-launched solid-fuel vehicle for small satellites;
Taurus, a land-based variant of the Pegasus booster with a decommissioned Peacekeeper ballistic missile used as the first stage;
Minotaur, a family of small solid-fuel launchers that uses a mixture of decommissioned Peacekeeper and Minuteman II ballistic missile stages and Pegasus and Taurus technology; and,
Antares, a new medium-class, liquid-fuel booster developed under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program that will launch Cygnus freighters to the International Space Station.
The company also is developing a new air-launched rocket nicknamed Pegasus II for Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems company. This new medium launch vehicle is set to make its debut flight in 2016.
Let’s now take a closer look at Orbital’s programs. The launch history tables below are adapted from Wikipedia.
“Stratolaunch and SpaceX have amicably agreed to end our contractual relationship because the current launch vehicle design has departed significantly from the Falcon derivative vehicle envisioned by SpaceX and does not fit well with their long-term strategic business model,” says Gary Wentz, Stratolaunch CEO, in a 27 November email.