DULLES, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE:OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, successfully launched its AntaresTM rocket carrying a CygnusTM spacecraft today at 7:45 p.m. EDT, marking its return to flight operations from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. The launch is Orbital ATK’s sixth cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station for NASA. During the mission, designated OA-5, Cygnus will deliver vital equipment, supplies and experiments to astronauts aboard the space station, as well as conduct scientific experiments onboard Cygnus following undocking from the space station.
“Today’s success is a credit to the dedication and hard work of the Orbital ATK employees who support our Antares and Cygnus programs,” said Dave Thompson, Orbital ATK CEO. “They worked many long hours to successfully execute a plan that enabled us to continue to deliver cargo for NASA while implementing several upgrades to our Antares rocket.”
The Antares medium-class rocket launched approximately 5,300 pounds (2,400 kilograms) of cargo to the crew of six that will be aboard the space station later this week. Following a nine-minute ascent, the S.S. Alan Poindexter spacecraft, named in honor of the late astronaut, was successfully deployed into orbit. Orbital ATK’s engineering team confirmed that reliable communications have been established and that the vehicle’s solar arrays are fully deployed, providing the necessary electrical power to operate the spacecraft.
“The Antares team has worked tirelessly over many months to prepare for this launch,” said Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group. “Congratulations to the entire Orbital ATK and NASA team on a successful launch.”
Frank Culbertson, President of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group, added, “As a company headquartered in Virginia, we are proud to again launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. We are well prepared to continue delivering essential cargo to the International Space Station for years to come.”
Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 7:05 a.m. EDT on Oct. 23. The spacecraft will remain attached to the International Space Station for approximately one month before departing with roughly 3,700 pounds (1,700 kilograms) of disposable cargo for a safe, destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Cygnus’ large-volume and pressurized disposal cargo capability, a critical service to NASA, is unique among America’s commercial cargo providers.
For the current Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission, Cygnus is carrying the Saffire II payload experiment to study combustion behavior in microgravity, further demonstrating its versatility in conducting science experiments in space. Data from this experiment will be downloaded via telemetry. In addition, a NanoRacks deployer will release Spire Cubesats used for weather forecasting. These secondary payload operations will be conducted after Cygnus departs the space station.
Under the CRS-1 contract with NASA, Orbital ATK will deliver approximately 66,000 pounds (30,000 kilograms) of cargo to the space station through 2018. NASA will manifest a variety of essential items based on space station program needs, including food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts, laboratory equipment and scientific experiments.
Beginning in 2019, Orbital ATK will carry out a minimum of six initial cargo missions under NASA’s recently awarded CRS-2 contract. The partnership is cultivating a robust American commercial space industry, freeing NASA to focus on developing the next-generation rocket and spacecraft that will enable humans to conduct deep space exploration missions.
The Cygnus system consists of a common service module and pressurized cargo module (PCM). The service module was built and tested at Orbital ATK’s manufacturing facility in Dulles, Virginia. The enhanced Cygnus also uses Orbital ATK’s UltraFlexTM solar arrays, which are the latest in lightweight, space-qualified, electrical power technology. Orbital ATK manufactured the arrays and composite structures at its Goleta and San Diego, California, facilities, and the propellant tanks for the Cygnus spacecraft at its Commerce, California, site.
The upgraded Antares rocket includes new RD-181 engines from Energomash, a core designed by Yuzhnoye and manufactured by Yuzhmash, as well as the Castor 30XL solid rocket motor second stage that is manufactured at Orbital ATK’s facility in Magna, Utah.
B-roll and animation footage for the mission can be found here:
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About Orbital ATK
Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs approximately 12,000 people in 18 states across the U.S. and in several international locations. For more information, visit www.orbitalatk.com.