Click the arrow to watch the September 17 Cygnus test flight press conference on YouTube. Video source: NASA.
The Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program reaches its climax this week when Orbital Sciences plans to launch its Cygnus cargo module from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops, Virginia.
If successful, the United States will have two robotic 21st Century spacecraft capable of delivering payloads to the International Space Station. No other nation has more than one. The other vehicle in the program, the SpaceX Dragon, has visited the ISS three times and is scheduled for its fourth delivery in January.
The launch window is Wednesday September 18, from 10:50 AM to 11:05 AM EDT. Arrival at the ISS is planned for September 22 at about 7:25 AM EDT.
It's been a busy month for the Orbital launch complex at Wallops. On September 6, the NASA Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) launched on an Orbital Minotaur V from Pad 0B. Cygnus will launch atop an Orbital Antares from Pad 0A.
NASA released today the below photo displaying Orbital's sense of humor about their launch vehicles' destinations.