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Posted

Both being components of Orbital Science's ISS COTS cargo resupply system, sharing that function with SpaceX's Falcon 9/Cargo Dragon system.

Unlike Cargo Dragon, the Italian-built (Thales) Cygnus has no downmass (cargo return) capability, burning up on re-entry like the Russian Progress, Europe's ATV and Japan's HTV cargo carriers.

The Taurus 2's first stage is Ukrainian, built by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau. The 2nd stage is Alliant Techsystems (ATK) solid fuel Castor 30. Launches will be from NASA's Wallops Island Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS)

[url=http://www.orbital.com/cargoresupplyservices/]Cygnus page....[/url]

[url=http://www.orbital.com/SpaceLaunch/TaurusII/]Taurus II page....[/url]

Today Aviation Week reports that the Taurus 2's AeroJet AJ-26 engine, based on the old Russian NK-33, suffered damage during a test stand fire 2 weeks ago. This could result in a delay of the first Taurus 2/Cygnus test flight well into next year.

[url=http://web02.aviationweek.com/aw/mstory.do?id=news/asd/2011/06/22/02.xml&channel=space&headline=Taurus%20II%20Engine%20Sustained%20Damage%20In%20Fire]Aviation Week....[/url]

[img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_O_L1W8HmE8E/S9DdzYRe_MI/AAAAAAAABfM/SN4VWclsuCo/s1600/Taurus-2.jpg[/img]

[img]http://digitalvideo.8m.net/orbital/cygnusnatspacesymposium%2D1.jpg[/img]
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Posted

why does it have to burn up on re-entry, that's an awful waste. BTW like that acronym, MARS...nice touch.

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Posted

Yup - Cygnus is a disposable cargo container.

When NASA was handing out the two budgeted COTS contracts they went to SpaceX and Rocket Plane-Kistler, both of which were two-way spacecraft capable of downmass return and re-use. RpK failed to meet their milestones and NASA pulled the contract and gave it to the #3 contender - Orbital Sciences Cygnus, which was a disposable container like the ATV and HTV. They were the closest to being ready of the remaining COTS competitors.

Now that AJ-26 engine issue looks to delay them several months. Instead of being a failed test stand fuel line as first thought it was a failure of a metal fuel line in the engine itself.

This is a huge deal because AeroJet was also going to use that engine to compete for NASA's SLS heavy lifter, first using re-certified Russian NK-33 engines that have been in storage since the early 1970's then later producing their own, all using the AJ-26 name. This metal failure brings up the possibility that those stored engines may have deteriorated more than previously thought.

NK-33 is an evolution of the N-15, the engine originally designed for the Russian N1 moon rocket, a Saturn V size launcher which failed badly giving the US the lead in the space race. All 4 test flights of the N1 failed, mostly caused by engine failure or malfunction.

Not a good sign :p

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Posted

well, why did they think using the same materials from the N1 would work? even i know that the N1's lack of performance was what dissuaded the Soviets from going head to head with US on manned missions, so why would this work several decades later? I mean you'd expect the metal side of things to be taken care of, this isn't new technology, it's effectively the same stuff we've had for 80 years now. i'm not trying to put anyone down and i'm certainly no engineer myself, but i don't really understand the thinking in many of these cases.

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Posted

A tale of two companies -

Orbital, being a traditional hoizontally integrated company, saw getting mothballed Russian engines at a discount as a way to reduce development costs. They have AeroJet refurb them for initial use, then reverse engineer them for production using traditional rocket building methods. The contract a Ukraine outfit to build the first stage, buy ATK's Castor 2nd stage, and have Thales in italy do the Cygnus. Very much a traditional cost structure. Decision making is bureaucratic and top down.

OTOH SpaceX is vertically integrated and chose to design a new-tech engine in-house, the Merlin, that was simpler and easy/cheap to mass produce using outside the box auto industry methods in volume. They've already said they could build 700-800 a year per line. They buils the entire Falcon 9 structure and Dragon, only buying what the have to while learning to build it themselves later. Decision making is non-bureaucratic: line engineers identify the problem and work out a fix. They then have a very few people (usually Elon) make the call, which is from reports is usually to go with the teams recommendations.

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Posted

clearly the latter model works a lot better...i wonder how long SpaceX will be able to remain like that? hopefully even when they get bigger they'll retain this culture.

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Posted

1/3 of the stored NK-33/AJ26's have the defect that caused the test stand problem and need work. There goes the cost curve - and it pushes the first test flight out of 2011 and into 2012.

http://www.spacenews.com/launch/110722-taurus-debut-delayed.html

[quote]>
In a conference call with investors, Thompson said an early-June test failure of a Taurus 2 first-stage AJ26 engine is unlikely to have much impact on the rocket

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Posted

Orbital Science's Cygnus launch early next year is at risk from hurricane Irene, which looks to hit NASA's Wallops Island, Virginia launch facility head-on Sunday. Making matters worse is that Sunday is also high tide.

The National Weather Service Interactive Storm Surge program shows an expected 10-20 ft surge at least 2-4 miles inland, and the Taurus 2/Cygnus assembly/integration facility is 11 ft above sea level.

There are two 1st stages, at least one 2nd stage and the Cygnus spacecraft at risk, and it took a giant Russian AN-124 transport to get them there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i2j7gdHuuE

Mission simulation video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dCDQorXzWE

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Posted

why would a launch scheduled for next year be affected so by a storm in late August? it should be enough time to recover. but was there actually any damage?

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Posted

The area was flooded but they got lucky and the Taurus II and Cygnus weren't damaged.


The things are loaded with very complex electronics, the upper stages have solid rocket fuels, and the first stage has and explosives in case it goes off course. Not the stuff you want to get wet.

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Posted

i understand. hopefully it'll be ok after a good inspection.

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Posted

Antares (formerly Taurus 2) hotfire engines test tonight!!

Presser: http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/release.asp?prid=847

First test flight in a few weeks.

http://youtu.be/wFj4A2vW3yY

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Posted

All the more power to them, no pun intended!

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Posted

Antares / Cygnus is important beyond being an ISS resupply partner. The AJ-26 engine it uses has an upgrade version with almost 500,000 lbs of thrust that's been considrred for possible use on the Space Launch System or evolved boosters for Lockheed & Boeing.

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Posted

Antares maiden flight no earlier than April 16, 2013 @3:00 PM Eastern from the Wallops Island spaceport in Virginia.. Additional launch windows on the 17th and 18th if needed, same time.

Antares is a medium class launcher capable of launching 5 metric tons (11,000 lbs) to low Earth orbit, which is similar to the ULA Delta II. This is also about 32% to 37% the lift Falcon 9 v1.1, depending on the F9's configuration.

This test flight will not carry the Orbital Sciences Cygnus ISS resupply spacecraft, just a mass simulator. If this is successful Cygnus will make its first flight later this year.

[Url=http://www.orbital.com/Antares-Cygnus/files/AONE-Mission-Overview.pdf]Antares overview w/ pictures - PDF....[/url]

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Posted

Before making comparisons between Antares and Falcon 9 / Falcon Heavy, understand that they are totally different classes of launcher so the competition between them is minimal.

Mass to LEO -

Antares: 5,000 kg
Falcon 9 v1.0 (retired): 10,450 kg
Falcon 9 v1.1 (with engine out): 13,150 kg
Falcon 9 v1.1 (w/o engine out): 16,000 kg
Falcon Heavy: 53,000 kg

Cygnus and Dragon are also very different; Cygnus has a greater pressurized volume than Dragon, but a smaller hatch and total mass to orbit. Cygnus also has no unpressurized cargo space, so hauling big bits for outside the ISS is out. Dragon can return to Earth while Cygnus is disposable, burning up in the atmosphere.

Big differences.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/antares/demo/130406rollout/#.UWJyKb-9LTo

[Quote][b]Antares rocket positioned on launch pad for test flight[/b]

Rolling out on a crisp morning on Virginia's Eastern Shore, the first Orbital Sciences Antares rocket left its hangar Saturday and was positioned on a seaside launch pad for liftoff on a test flight set for April 17.

The Antares rocket rolls up the ramp to the launch pad at Wallops Island, Va. Credit: NASA

The white two-stage rocket, emblazoned with an American flag on its nose, left its integration hangar before dawn riding horizontally on a specially-designed transporter. After pausing at the base of the launch pad, a hydraulic erector lifted the 133-foot Antares booster vertical at about 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

Now positioned on launch pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, the Antares rocket is set to undergo final testing and countdown exercises ahead of a test launch scheduled for April 17 at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), the opening of a three-hour window.

"With the completion of the Antares rollout today, we are on a clear path to a launch date of April 17, provided there are no significant weather disruptions or major vehicle check-out delays between now and then," said Michael Pinkston, Orbital's Antares program manager, in a company statement.

The launch pad is owned by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and lies on the property of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

Delayed more than a year by setbacks in the launch pad's propellant handling system, the Antares test launch comes near the end of a five-year public-private partnership to develop Orbital's cargo transport system.

The mission's payload is an instrumented simulator mimicking the mass characteristics of Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft, a commercial vehicle designed to haul supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

The demonstration launch is the first of two test flights planned under an agreement between Orbital Sciences and NASA. If this month's launch goes well, Orbital hopes to launch another Antares rocket with a functional Cygnus spacecraft this summer on a cargo delivery demo flight to the space station.

The test flights are the culmination of the agreement, in which NASA is paying Orbital up to $288 million to design, build and test the Antares booster and Cygnus freighter. Once NASA is satisfied the vehicles are safe, perhaps as soon as this fall, Orbital will begin a series of eight operational resupply flights under a $1.9 billion contract.


The Antares rocket is lifted vertical atop the launch pad Saturday. Credit: NASA

Orbital's Antares and Cygnus system joins SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft providing U.S. resupply services to the space station. NASA turned to the commercial providers to ferry cargo to the outpost after the retirement of the space shuttle.

SpaceX completed its required demo flight to the space station in May 2012, and the California-based company has accomplished the first two of a dozen operational missions since then.
>[/quote]

Rollout to pad
[img]http://www.spaceflightnow.com/antares/demo/130406rollout/rollout.jpg[/img]

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Posted

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/antares/demo/130406rollout/#.UWncVr-9LTo

[quote][b]Antares rocket positioned on launch pad for test flight[/b]

Rolling out on a crisp morning on Virginia's Eastern Shore, the first Orbital Sciences Antares rocket left its hangar Saturday and was positioned on a seaside launch pad for liftoff on a test flight set for April 17.

The white two-stage rocket, emblazoned with an American flag on its nose, left its integration hangar before dawn riding horizontally on a specially-designed transporter. After pausing at the base of the launch pad, a hydraulic erector lifted the 133-foot Antares booster vertical at about 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

Now positioned on launch pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, the Antares rocket is set to undergo final testing and countdown exercises ahead of a test launch scheduled for April 17 at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), the opening of a three-hour window.

"With the completion of the Antares rollout today, we are on a clear path to a launch date of April 17, provided there are no significant weather disruptions or major vehicle check-out delays between now and then," said Michael Pinkston, Orbital's Antares program manager, in a company statement.

The launch pad is owned by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and lies on the property of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

Delayed more than a year by setbacks in the launch pad's propellant handling system, the Antares test launch comes near the end of a five-year public-private partnership to develop Orbital's cargo transport system.

The mission's payload is an instrumented simulator mimicking the mass characteristics of Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft, a commercial vehicle designed to haul supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

The demonstration launch is the first of two test flights planned under an agreement between Orbital Sciences and NASA. If this month's launch goes well, Orbital hopes to launch another Antares rocket with a functional Cygnus spacecraft this summer on a cargo delivery demo flight to the space station.
>[/quote]

[img]http://d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/IMG_5873a_Antares-at-Pad_Ken-Kremer.jpg[/img]

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Posted

[Quote]MEDIA ADVISORY: M13-059

NASA SETS TV COVERAGE FOR ANTARES TEST FLIGHT

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- NASA's commercial partner, Orbital Sciences
Corporation of Dulles, Va., is scheduled to launch its first Antares
rocket from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at the agency's
Wallops Flight Facility on Wednesday, April 17.

NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 4 p.m. EDT.
Liftoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. with a daily launch window that runs
until 8 p.m. If needed, back-up launch opportunities are available
April 18-21.

The Antares test flight is the first of two missions Orbital is
scheduled to conduct this year under NASA's Commercial Orbital
Transportation Services (COTS) Program. This mission will demonstrate
the Antares launch system beginning with its April 6 rollout and
placement on the launch pad through its fueling, launch, and delivery
of a mass simulator payload into orbit.

The mass simulator matches the weight and dimensions of the Cygnus
spacecraft, which Orbital has developed to deliver cargo to the
International Space Station. The simulator carries instruments to
collect data about the launch environment during the Antares flight.

In advance of the launch, NASA will host a media briefing to discuss
the Wallops Flight Facility, Orbital's activities under NASA's COTS
and Commercial Resupply Services initiatives, and the new
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A. It will begin at 2 p.m.
Tuesday, April 16, at the Wallops Visitors Center. At 3 p.m., NASA
will host a prelaunch news conference about the test launch and
mission. Both briefings will be carried live on NASA TV and the
agency's website.

News media may request accreditation to attend the prelaunch news
conferences and launch by contacting Keith Koehler at 757-824-1579 or
keith.a.koehler@nasa.gov.

The deadline for U.S. media to apply for accreditation is Thursday,
April 11. The deadline has passed for international news media to
apply.

For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For an updated scheduled of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV
coverage times, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/orbital
[/quote]

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Posted

A Thursday launch may be more likely than Wednesday.

https://facebook.com/NASAWFF?id=191575794205863&_rdr

[Quote]Orbital's Antares Wet Dress Rehearsal Test Identifies Engine Valve That Needs To Be Replaced

On Saturday, Orbital conducted the wet dress rehearsal for the Antares rocket in preparation its Test Flight scheduled for later this week on April 17. Late in the countdown, at about T-16 minutes, the test was halted because the launch team had detected a technical anomaly in the process. Orbital has determined that a secondary pyro valve aboard one of the two first-stage engines used in the propellant chilldown process was not functioning properly. A replacement unit will be installed within 24 hours with the goal of maintaining the April 17 launch date. Orbital will issue additional updates as warranted.[/quote]

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Posted

The engine valve got fixed for a Wednesday launch (today.)

They get within minutes of liftoff when the 2nd stage umbilical line prematurely separates, disconnecting evefything.

LAUNCH SCRUBBED.

NASA is saying 24-48 hours to reset, but the weather may not cooperate.

These guys can't buy a break. A few months back they had an engine fire on the test stand at NASA Stennis, then before that their previous major launches both failed due to the payload fairings not properly separating.

Their engines are derived from the failed Russian N1 moon rocket, so maybe its jinx came along for the ride?



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Posted

Maybe they should get some of this.
http://nasaldeliverytechnology.com.au/

But this sucks for them, it was looking good for them, we need to get more active competition. They may need to review their quality control procedures.

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Posted

Latest info is that the wind caused the rockets strongback (transporter/erector tower) to flex and twist tugging the umbilical's lanyard, and that pulled out the connector. Fortunately, it was just a data umbilical.

Time to rethink wind operations, and maybe stiffen that strongback.

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Posted

[quote name='DocM' timestamp='1365892797' post='595635842']
[url="http://www.spaceflightnow.com/antares/demo/130406rollout/#.UWncVr-9LTo"]http://www.spaceflig...t/#.UWncVr-9LTo[/url]



[img]http://d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/IMG_5873a_Antares-at-Pad_Ken-Kremer.jpg[/img]
[/quote]

Even though that isn't a missile. They need to load that thing full of nukes and fire it @ North Korea.

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Posted

Latest news is that the range (NASA Wallops) gave Orbital Sciences a wind waiver about 3+ hours before the scheduled launch time of 5:00 PM, raising the limit from 15 to 20 knots.

Bet they don't do that again, at least until the Antares strongback gets modded to handle it.

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Posted

Antares A-One is now scheduled for launch on Sunday. Launch window opens at 5:00 PM Eastern.

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