Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket will deliver the commercial Cygnus supply ship to an orbit with an altitude between 130 miles and 179 miles within about nine minutes of liftoff from Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Less than a week after publishing the results of an independent investigation into last year’s Antares rocket failure, NASA has released new photos of the catastrophic crash just after liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia.
An Orbital ATK investigation into last year’s Antares rocket crash in Virginia identified a decades-old manufacturing defect inside an AJ26 engine turbopump as the most likely cause of the failure, but a team of NASA engineers was not so sure in their report.
Repair crews in Virginia have restored the Antares booster’s launch pad — damaged in an explosive rocket crash nearly one year ago — to flight-ready status as the Orbital ATK launcher moves toward a return-to-flight in 2016.
The first pair of RD-181 rocket engines set to launch on Orbital ATK’s redesigned Antares rocket are in the final stages of acceptance testing in Russia ahead of their export to the United States in early July, officials said.
Space station resupply missions launched from Virginia are set to resume in March 2016, after Orbital ATK integrates newly-built rocket engines into the Ukrainian-made booster stage of the company’s commercial Antares rocket and puts it through an on-pad test firing in January.
Orbital Sciences Corp. and Energia have signed a contract worth approximately $1 billion for up to 60 Russian-made RD-181 rocket engines to power the redesigned first stage of the commercial Antares launcher.