Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Orbital, Aerojet Complete Russian Engine Tests


An artist's conception of the Taurus II rocket. Image source: Orbital Sciences Corp.

Orbital Sciences and business partner Aerojet report they have successfully completed tests on a Russian NK-33 engine that would be used in the first stage of their Taurus II rocket.

Orbital is developing the Taurus II medium-class space launch vehicle to boost payloads into a variety of low Earth and geosynchronous transfer orbits and to Earth escape trajectories. Taurus II incorporates proven technologies from the company’s Pegasus®, Taurus and Minotaur rockets, and is supported by a "best-in-class" network of suppliers from the U.S. and around the world.

The Taurus II program currently has a backlog of nine launches, beginning with the demonstration flight in 2011 for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) project, a joint research and development effort with NASA to develop a system capable of safely and reliably supplying the International Space Station (ISS) with essential cargo. Orbital is also under contract with NASA for the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program with an eight-mission, $1.9 billion agreement to deliver cargo to the ISS from 2011 through 2015.

In addition to its work with NASA on the COTS and CRS programs, Orbital is also offering the Taurus II rocket to U.S. civil government and military customers for dedicated launch services for medium-class scientific and national security satellites. From its Wallops Island, Virginia, launch site, Taurus II will be capable of supporting mid-inclination and polar orbiting spacecraft weighing approximately 10,500 lbs. and 5,500 lbs., respectively.

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