Antares Set For Return To Flight with Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft

On Monday 17th October 2016, an Orbital ATK Antares rocket is getting ready to Return To Flight operations following a flight anomaly in October 2014. The Antares is set to launch the company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft on a trajectory to the International Space Station. OA-5 will provide cargo and scientific experiments to the station.


In October 2014, Antares suffered a major anomaly 6 seconds into Flight which resulted in a Loss of Mission (LOM) and significant loss of cargo which was bound for the International  Space Station. The Cargo lost on that mission included items for Scott Kelly’s Year in Space mission. 

Pending a lengthy investigation with Orbital ATK (at the time Orbital Sciences), Wallops Flight Facility staff and the Range, the investigation concluded with varietied possible outcomes of the failed launch. The main culprit which was mentioned by most parties, placed the majority of the blame on the engines and their aged turbopumps. Others placed human error for the failure. 


It was clear however that the cause of the failure shook the company greatly and that the company would immediately halt using the original engines which powered the 100 series Antares. Moving towards a future version of Antares quicker than expected, Orbital ATK moved to the RD-181 engine, which is similar to the engine which is used on the Atlas V, the RD-180. This engine will be paired up and placed on to Antares to replace the NK-33. 


With this launch coming a day later than planned due to an issue with a ground system, it is now expected for the Cygnus spacecraft, if it does launch into space, to loiter to allow the  next crew to the ISS priority to dock ahead of the berthing of Cygnus. The Cygnus spacecraft is expected to stay berthed to the International Space Station for at least one month, but will likely stay for 2 months as previous missions have demonstrated. 


With Cygnus hoping to begin a busy week for the International Space Station Program, it is hoped that Antares launches without an issue and that Orbital ATK can return Antares to Flight Operations. 

AllStuffSpace wish Orbital ATK, NASA and all teams involved with the OA-5 mission to the ISS all the best, and God Speed!

GO ANTARES, GO CYGNUS, GO ORBITAL ATK!!

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