Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Orbital Test Flights Delayed

Florida Today reports that the Orbital Sciences commercial cargo flight schedule this year will be delayed.

Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is poised to carry out a key hot-fire test and then the inaugural flight of its Antares rocket once the state of Virginia completes delayed work on a commercial launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va.

Those two events now are scheduled for May and late June, respectively, Orbital Chairman and CEO David Thompson told financial analysts in a conference call today.

Next up in late August or early September will be the launch of an Antares rocket and a Cygnus spacecraft on a mission to demonstrate the company can safely and reliably deliver cargo to the International Space Station.




UPDATE February 22, 2012 7:30 PM EDTNASASpaceFlight.com takes a look at Orbital's plans for Antares test flights in 2012 and the eventual flights of the Cygnus cargo module.

Expanding on the slip to the right for Antares’ schedule, [Orbital Chairman and CEO David] Thompson added the first major milestone – a hot firing of the Antares first stage – should occur in late May, paving the way for the vehicle’s test flight just a month or so later.

"As I noted earlier, delays caused by the need to redesign and replace various ground systems at our Wallops Island, Virginia launch pad, have pushed (the schedule) out by another couple of months.

"We now expect to carry out the important hold down hot firing of the Antares first stage in late May and assuming it goes smoothly, the rocket’s first launch in late June or early July.

"This translates into being ready for the COTS demonstration mission – which would be launched on the second Antares flight – in the late summer and first operational CRS flight to the International Space Station on the third Antares launch at the end of the year."

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