NASA and Orbital ATK are aiming for a mid-October launch of the company's new space rocket, Antares 230. The operation is the company's seventh out of ten cargo missions contract with NASA for a deal of roughly $2.6 billion. It is said to commence sometime between Oct. 9 and 13.
The OA-5 Cygnus rocket will lift off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spacecraft to the International Space Station and will be called the "S.S. Alan G. Poindexter." NASA said last Wednesday that Cygnus will be launching on-board the Orbital ATK's Antares rocket from the company's Wallops Flight Facility located in Wallops Island, Virginia.
Reports state that Cygnus will be carrying around 5.290 pounds worth of science tools, experiments and supplies to the International Space Station. In addition, they will be deploying Cygnus around the Earth's lower orbit where they will be using extensive maneuvering methods in order to send its cargo to the space station from their low parking orbit. From here on, the space station consequently will be capturing the spaceship through its robotic arm.
Orbital ATK also added that they — together with NASA — will be determining the specific blast-off date as soon as the final operational procedures and the technical reviews have been completed.
Additionally, Orbital ATK remarked the spacecraft will also be performing minor payload operations following its exit from the space station. This includes the Saffire II payload research to study microgravity combustion activities and the launch of Spire Cubesats from NanoRack deployer used for weather forecasting purposes.
The forthcoming send-off will be the first ever flight of Orbital ATK's latest version of the Antares rocket, the Antares 230. It will also mark the company's rise after its spacecraft failed to launch two years ago due to an engine explosion.
The new spacecraft will contain the latest RD-181 engine from Russia, replacing the AJ26 machines that got caught up in an explosion last October 28, 2014, which resulted to launch failure.