Launch Prep

RSS

Antares, NASA's second commercial route to the International Space Station, is on the pad and getting ready for its inaugural launch on April 17.

Developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. under the U.S. agency's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, the kerosene-fueled rocket is designed to deliver cargo to the ISS in an unmanned capsule dubbed Cygnus.

The first test flight -- the first of two Orbital needs to finish its COTS work and get its final payments -- will send an instrumented dummy Cygnus into the high-inclination orbit occupied by the space station. A second flight, tentatively set later this year, will fly close enough to the station to be grappled by its robotic arm and berthed to a pressurized module for cargo transfer.

If the flights are successful, NASA will have two ways  to deliver supplies to the six-person crew on the ISS. SpaceX, the other COTS contractor, already has delivered cargo there with its Dragon capsule, launched on its Falcon 9 rocket.

The Antares will fly from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, using a new state-owned launch pad. It is powered by two modified engines built in Russia during Soviet times, and includes a main stage manufactured in the Ukraine.

 Photo credit: NASA

Please or Register to post comments.

What's On Space?

On Space

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

 

Jan 31, 2016
blog

Tupolev 104: Harsh Proof Of Rapid Soviet Progress (1956) 18

Since little detail was available of the Russian design and built Tupolev 104, a profile was compiled for Aviation Week, based entirely on observations from photographs, experts such as engineers knowledgeable in typical Russian aircraft design and of its landing at London Airport....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×