WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — On Friday, September 7, at 9:30 a.m., a parachute test for a future mission to Mars successfully launched on a NASA Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket from Wallops Flight Facility. The rocket carried the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
The payload is a bullet-nosed, cylindrical structure holding a supersonic parachute, the parachute’s deployment mechanism, and the test’s high-definition instrumentation, including cameras, to record data.
The payload descended by parachute and splashed-down in the Atlantic Ocean 28 miles from Wallops Island. The parachute was successfully recovered and returned to Wallops for data retrieval and inspection.
Media accreditation now is open for the launch of the next Orbital ATK Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Orbital ATK is targeting no earlier than Aug. 22 for the lift off of its Cygnus spacecraft on an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A at Wallops. The spacecraft will carry crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbiting laboratory to support the Expedition 48 and 49 crews.
This will be the sixth cargo resupply mission by Orbital ATK under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. Cargo resupply by U.S. companies ensures a national capability to deliver critical science research to the space station, significantly increasing NASA’s ability to conduct new science investigations using the only microgravity laboratory.
Get more information about Orbital ATK, its Antares rocket and the Cygnus cargo carrier at:
WASHINGTON, D.C. (NASA PR) — A NASA team that independently reviewed the unsuccessful launch last year of Orbital ATK’s third commercial resupply services mission intended to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) has completed its report and publicly released an Executive Summary of its findings.
Greetings from Mojave. I had hoped to be greeting you from Las Cruces from the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS — pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Is-pic-us). But, my plans to leave one desert town to travel across vast stretches of desert to a larger desert town didn’t work out this year. (I don’t know why; it sounded like so much fun.)
There was a lot of discussion on Sunday about the impact of the loss of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft on the International Space Station. NASA officials said the ISS crew was in no danger from a supply standpoint, and they said they would stick to the existing schedule for crew rotation but might change the cargo manifest.
Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket exploded shortly after liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia. The explosion destroyed a Cygnus freighter carrying supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.
The explosion reportedly occurred about 6 seconds after launch. There was a massive explosion and then the vehicle fell back onto the launch pad. The Antares engines were throttled up to 108 percent when the explosion occurred.
Launch officials have confirmed there were no injuries in the explosion. All personnel are safe and accounted for at this time.
The cargo manifest includes 26 Planet Labs satellites that would be launched off the space station. Planetary Resources also had its first test satellite aboard Cygnus. Thee were also a number of student experiments on the ship. NASA has the full manifest.
This mission was Orbital Sciences’ third contracted Cygnus cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station under an 8-flight contract. Two previous contracted Cygnus missions and a demonstration flight had succeeded.
This was the fifth flight of the Antares rocket. Four previous flights had been success.
Antares uses Arojet-Rocketdyne AJ-26 engines on its first stage. These are refurbished NK-33 engines originally designed for the Soviet manned lunar program in the 1970’s. There have been problems with corrosion on the 40-year old engines; one engine exploded on its test stand in May.
The rocket’s first-stage structure is built in Ukraine. Antares second stage consists of a solid-fuel rocket supplied by ATK.
My deepest sympathies to the Orbital Sciences team and all those with payloads aboard the vehicle. It’s a bad day, but these things happen in this field. This is the nature of this business.
UPDATE: Orbital and NASA officials will have a press conference at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT).
Orbital announced today that the launch of Antares for the Orb-2 Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station has been rescheduled for Saturday, July 12 at 1:14 p.m. EDT. Due to severe thunderstorms in the Wallops area the night of Tuesday, July 8, the rollout of the Antares rocket to its launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport scheduled for this morning was delayed resulting in a compression of the operational schedule leading to the launch. This afternoon, the company’s launch team determined the best course of action would be to postpone the launch one day to allow for normal launch operations processing. Despite the one day schedule slip, Cygnus will still arrive at the ISS on July 15 with berthing scheduled at approximately 7:24 a.m. EDT.