February 19, 2014
Orbital successfully completed the first operational Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission for NASA when the Cygnus spacecraft named for former NASA astronaut and "friend of the company" C. Gordon Fullerton reentered Earth's atmosphere at about 1:20 p.m. today. The reentry took place the day after the spacecraft deberthed and departed from the International Space Station after a 37 day stay at the orbiting laboratory. Please see Orbital's press release about the completion of the mission here.
January 15, 2014
Over the past several days, following the successful berthing of the Cygnus spacecraft with the ISS, the Expedition 38 crew has been busy with cargo and payload transfer operations. The crew opened the hatch on Sunday, January 12 after the berthing and began cargo transfer. On January 13th, the payloads contained in Cygnus were transferred to the ISS, to include the Ants in Space experiment and the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, Cygnus' first powered payload. Activation of both these payloads has been performed by the crew and results so far have been as expected.
As of January 15th, all the cargo contained in the Cygnus pressurized module has been removed for use aboard the station and to prepare the science experiments for their activities. The crew also began the process of reloading Cygnus with disposal items. Over the next several weeks, the crew will fill the cargo module with up to 2,800 lbs. of disposal material to be removed from the station, another important function that Cygnus performs. The Cygnus ground team will also continue to monitor the powered systems aboard the spacecraft until mid-February, when the departure from the station is planned.
Mission updates will resume when the onboard crew and the Cygnus ground team is preparing for deberthing, departure and reentry operations.
January 12, 2014
8:05 am EST
Cygnus has been installed to the space station's Harmony node. The station crew will open the Cygnus hatch either later today or tomorrow and begin unloading cargo over the coming days.
6:08 am EST
Capture of Cygnus by the station crew! The crew will use the station's robotic arm to maneuver the spacecraft and install it to the station's Harmony node.
5:50 am EST
Cygnus is now approaching to within 10 meters of the station and will hold there in advance of grapple by the station's arm.
5:15 am EST
Cygnus has been given the "go" to approach to within 30 meters of the station. The target time for grapple of Cygnus by the station's robotic arm is approximately 6:13 am EST.
4:45 am EST
Cygnus has completed the "ADV-4" burn and is about 440 meters below the station. The spacecraft's LIDARs are tracking the station and we remain on track for capture by the station's robotic arm at approximately 6:13 am EST
3:45 am EST
All Cygnus systems are operating nominally with no issues. Over the last few hours the spacecraft has performed a series of thruster burns to being it in close proximity of the International Space Station. The next burn will adjust Cygnus's orbit and bring it to within 1.4 km of the station. We remain on track for rendezvous with the station at approximately 5:00 am EST.
January 11, 2014
All Cygnus systems are performing as expected with no issues. The spacecraft has conducted five orbit-raising maneuvers and is on track for rendezvous with the International Space Station tomorrow morning, with a target time for capture by the space station's robotic arm at 6:02 am EST (11:02 GMT). NASA TV coverage of rendezvous with the space station will begin at 5:00 am EST.
January 9, 2014
Antares successfully launched the Cygnus spacecraft carrying cargo bound for the International Space Station, lifting off from Pad 0A at Wallops Island, Virginia at approximately 1:07 pm EST. The roughly ten-minute mission delivered Cygnus to its initial orbit. Over the next two-and-a-half days, Cygnus will use its on-board thrusters to raise its orbit to rendezvous and berth with the space station. Arrival of Cygnus at the station is targeted for the morning of Sunday, January 12.
January 8, 2014
Following a comprehensive review of data related to the radiation environment in space, further reviews and modeling of the rocket's avionics systems, and the forecast for favorable terrestrial weather conditions at the Wallops Island launch facility, the Antares launch team has decided to proceed forward with a launch attempt of the Orbital-1 CRS mission to the International Space Station tomorrow, January 9 pending overnight close-out of all remaining pre-launch reviews and tests. Upon a deeper examination of the current space weather environment, Orbital's engineering team, in consultation with NASA, has determined that the risk to launch success is within acceptable limits established at the outset of the Antares program.
Tomorrow's target launch time is 1:07 p.m. (EST), which would allow the Cygnus spacecraft to rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station early Sunday morning, January 12.
January 8, 2014
Orbital will hold a press briefing via teleconference to discuss the postponement of today's Antares launch of Orbital's first Commercial Resupply (CRS) mission to the International Space Station due to the current space radiation environment generated by recent solar flux activity. Please note: This teleconference is for media ONLY.
- Frank Culbertson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Orbital's Advanced Programs Group
- Antonio Elias, Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Orbital Sciences
Wednesday, January 08, 2014, 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST
- Introduction by Barron Beneski, Orbital's Vice President of Corporate Communications
- Opening statements by Mr. Culbertson and Dr. Elias
- Media Q&A
Dial In: (888) 541-8767
Access code: 31500887
January 8, 2014
Early this morning the Antares launch team decided to scrub today's launch attempt due to an unusually high level of space radiation that exceeded by a considerable margin the constraints imposed on the mission to ensure the rocket's electronic systems are not impacted by a harsh radiation environment. The solar flux activity that occurred late yesterday afternoon has had the result of increasing the level of radiation beyond what the Antares engineering team was monitoring earlier in the day. Overnight, Orbital engineers who are experts in the field ran numerous models to ensure that all possibilities to preserve the launch were examined. However, due to significantly elevated flux levels, the Antares team decided to postpone the launch to spend the day further examining the potential effects of the space radiation on the rocket's avionics suite. Cygnus would not be affected by the solar event.
Today, in consultation with NASA and outside experts in the field of "space weather," Orbital will continue to monitor the levels of space radiation with a goal of setting a new launch date as soon as possible. If we are able to launch on Thursday, the launch targeted launch time would be 1:07 p.m. (EST), with Cygnus arriving at the ISS Sunday morning, January 12.
January 7, 2014
Orbital and NASA conducted the Antares Launch Readiness Review (LRR) this morning at the Wallops Flight Facility, resulting in a determination to move forward with the launch tomorrow, January 8, contingent upon successfully completing several outstanding testing actions and data reviews later this afternoon.
Assuming today's activities are completed on schedule, the Antares launch is targeted for 1:32 pm EST (18:32 GMT). The weather forecast for tomorrow is 95% "go" for launch.
January 6, 2014
Antares was rolled out of the Horizontal Integration Facility last night at 4:30pm EST and the rocket was vertical on the pad by 10:40 pm last night with all systems functioning properly. Today the team will connect the commodity lines and perform a series of checkouts and system tests.
The launch Readiness Review is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, January 7 at 10:00 am, with a targeted launch at 1:32 pm EST on Wednesday, January 8.
January 3, 2014
Orbital, in consultation with NASA, has decided to reschedule the Antares CRS Orb-1 Space Station Resupply Mission launch for no earlier than Wednesday, January 8, 2014. The new target date was set due to the extreme cold temperatures that are forecasted for early next week, coupled with likely precipitation events predicted for Sunday night and Monday morning. While we are preserving the option to launch on January 8, it is more likely that the launch will take place on Thursday, January 9 because of a much improved weather forecast for later in the week.
The launch window on Wednesday is 1:32 - 1:37 pm EST (18:32 - 18:37 GMT). If weather conditions on Wednesday do not prove favorable, the launch window for Thursday, January 9 is 1:10 - 1:15 pm EST (18:10 - 18:15 GMT).
Rollout of the rocket to the pad will occur as previously scheduled tomorrow night, January 4, due to the relatively favorable weather, and the fact that the cargo has already been loaded onto the Cygnus. The team will execute on-pad preparations (mating the rocket to the pad, rotating the rocket to its vertical position, connecting umbilicals, etc.) immediately after rollout.
The Launch Readiness Review is currently scheduled to take place on Monday January 6. If the launch occurs on either Wednesday, January 8 or Thursday, January 9, Cygnus rendezvous and berthing with the space station will occur early in the morning of Sunday, January 12.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Orbital remains on track for a January 7 launch of the Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus spacecraft to supply the International Space Station with needed supplies and equipment. Following the decision by NASA to postpone the launch and berthing with the ISS until after the Expedition 38 crew repaired the malfunctioning exterior cooling loop pump, Orbital returned the Antares rocket to its integration facility located about a mile from the launch pad. There, time sensitive cargo was removed and will be refreshed for the mission.
To meet the January 7 launch schedule, Orbital's Cygnus team will reinstall the final-load cargo on January 3. The Antares rocket will then be rolled back out to the pad late in the evening on January 4. Roll-out operations are scheduled to begin at 10:00 p.m. The targeted launch window on January 7 is from 1:55 to 2:00 p.m. (EST).
December 20, 2013
NASA and Orbital have established a new "no earlier than" (NET) launch date of Tuesday, Jan. 7, for the Orbital-1 CRS cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. A launch on Jan. 7 within the targeted window of 1:55 to 2:00 p.m. EST would result in a grapple and berthing at the space station in the early morning hours of Jan. 10. The launch date will continue to be evaluated as NASA proceeds with three upcoming spacewalks by the Expedition 38 crew to replace a cooling pump aboard the orbiting complex.
Following the postponement of the originally targeted Dec. 19 launch, Orbital's Antares team rolled the rocket off the launch pad and back to the Horizontal Integration Facility yesterday at Wallops. The time sensitive payloads that were on Cygnus are being removed today. They will be "refreshed" by the payload provider and returned for reloading into Cygnus. That operation would take place on Jan. 3. Rollout to the launch pad would occur on Jan. 4 to meet a Jan. 7 launch.
A conflict with a previously scheduled operation on the Wallops range has been resolved to allow the Antares launch to be proceed earlier than was originally thought possible after the decision was made to postpone the Dec. 19 launch attempt.
December 17, 2013
At NASA's direction we have postponed the launch of our commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station that was scheduled to occur on December 19, 2013 while the space agency proceeds with a series of spacewalks to replace a faulty pump module on the space station. The Antares rocket that is currently on the launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia will be returned to a horizontal position and transported back to the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF). At the HIF, the Antares payload fairing will be removed to allow the Cygnus team to open the payload module hatch and remove time-critical payloads for safekeeping until the next launch attempt, which will occur no earlier than mid-January.
December 17, 2013
This morning, the Antares crew rolled the rocket out to launch pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. (Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto/). Our operations team expects that they will erect the rocket to a vertical position by late morning. In parallel to the roll-out operation at Wallops, NASA is continuing to work on the cooling loop issue aboard the International Space Station. We do not yet have a "go/no go" decision for the launch on the 19th. The roll-out operation preserves that option for NASA in the event they are able to develop a plan that will allow the Cygnus spacecraft to rendezvous and berth with the ISS on December 22. Other launch and rendezvous/berthing date scenarios are also being considered. We expect NASA to provide additional guidance on the launch schedule either later today or tomorrow. Stand by for further updates.
December 15, 2013
The Cygnus team has been authorized to load the final cargo in the Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM ) today. This cargo is about 95kg of time-sensitive cargo consisting primarily of science payloads. We expect to finish loading the cargo later this afternoon, followed by about twelve hours of Cygnus closeouts including a purge of the air in the PCM, the final closing of the hatch, and leak checks. Installation of the Antares payload fairing is scheduled to occur on Monday.
Loading the final cargo today allows us to continue to target a launch on December 19. However, NASA is still assessing the thermal control issue on the space station, and a final determination to launch has not yet been made. If NASA gives us the go-ahead to proceed, rollout of Antares to the pad will take place early Tuesday morning.
December 14, 2013
At NASA's direction, Orbital's Cygnus operations team deferred loading the mission's final cargo into the spacecraft earlier today, postponing that operation by a day. Orbital will await NASA's direction for the final cargo load tomorrow while the cooling loop issue aboard the ISS is being investigated. If we get the go-ahead to load the final, time sensitive cargo on Sunday, roll out to the launch pad would be on Tuesday, December 17, launch on December 19, and rendezvous and berthing with the ISS on December 22. Please check back for additional updates over the next several days.
December 13, 2013
We are awaiting word from NASA about how the coolant issue on the space station may affect this mission. We currently plan to load the final cargo onto Cygnus tomorrow (December 14). If we get the go-ahead from NASA to do so, we will continue to target December 18 for launch and a December 21 rendezvous and berthing with the station. If cargo is loaded on Sunday the 15th, the first available launch attempt would be on the 19th, leading to a December 22 rendezvous and berthing with the station. At the latest, NASA is expected to provide direction on Monday the 16th as to how the ISS issue will affect our launch and rendezvous schedule.
In the meantime, the mission team plans to continue to add "late load" cargo into Cygnus today, perform tests and prepare for close-outs to the rocket over the weekend if the final cargo is loaded.
December 12, 2013
Orbital's Cygnus and Antares teams are continuing to make progress toward the launch of the company's first CRS mission known as Orb-1. Yesterday, following the mate of the Cygnus spacecraft, the team successfully completed Flight Simulation 2, during which the interaction between the Antares and Cygnus systems was verified to be operating as planned.
In the meantime, Orbital is awaiting word from NASA on whether there will be a schedule impact on the Orb-1 mission due to the cooling issue on the ISS that is now being investigated. We expect to receive direction from NASA on how to proceed no later than Monday, December 16.
December 11, 2013
Overnight, our operations team mated the Cygnus spacecraft to the Antares rocket that will launch it to the International Space Station (see photo below). Later today they will conduct "Flight Sim 2" which will simulate the complete launch sequence to ensure that the integrated Antares and Cygnus systems perform as designed. Post-test data analysis will follow immediately and will likely continue into tomorrow.
Next up is adding so called "late load" cargo into Cygnus which includes, among others: 33 cubesats that will be deployed from the space station at a later date; student experiments studying such areas as enzyme activity in microgravity, DNA mutation rate, cell regeneration and oil bubble formation; and even an experiment comparing differences in group behavior of ants living in microgravity conditions versus those living on Earth. Cameras will record the ants living on the space station and software will analyze their movement patterns and interaction rates. Students in K-12 will be able to observe the space station ants in near-real-time and conduct their own classroom experiments.
Cygnus mated to Antares Dec. 10, 2013
December 10, 2013
Preparations for next week's launch continue at the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) on Wallops Island, Virginia. Yesterday, Antares was lifted onto the Transporter/Erector/Launcher (TEL). The TEL acts as a support structure as Antares is transported on the approximately 1 mile route from the HIF to Pad 0A. At the pad, hydraulic erection actuators rotate the TEL and the rocket to a vertical position, where the TEL functions as Antares' umbilical support structure.Click on Images & Videos for more.
Later today the Cygnus cargo spacecraft will be mated to the rocket. The majority of the cargo for the International Space Station is already loaded onto Cygnus. This week additional "late load" cargo will be installed in Cygnus, the hatch will be closed, and the cargo module will be pressurized prior to encapsulation in the 9.9 meter Antares payload fairing. Roll-out of Antares to the launch pad is currently scheduled for December 16.
Lifting Antares onto the TEL Dec. 9 2013
Monday, December 9
The Antares team continued making progress over the weekend toward the launch of Orbital's first CRS resupply mission next week, however ongoing pre-launch testing took a bit longer than expected which resulted in shifting the targeted launch date by one day to December 18. In the next several days, the Antares rocket will be installed on the transporter/erector/launcher vehicle and the Cygnus spacecraft will be mated with the upper stage of the rocket. The launch window on December 18 is from 9:42 to 9:47 p.m.(EST). Additional updates will be posted in the days ahead.
Friday, December 6
Our Antares and Cygnus teams are in the advanced stages of preparation for the company's first operational resupply mission to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract. The launch to the Station originating from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility is currently scheduled for Tuesday, December 17, at approximately 10:04 p.m.
Over the next 11 days, major operational events are scheduled to take place, beginning this weekend with the movement of the Antares rocket to the transporter/erector/launcher (TEL) and the mating of the Cygnus spacecraft with the Antares rocket that will carry it to orbit. Following the mating process, a series of tests to ensure all systems are properly working together will ensue, as will late- and final-loading of cargo, the encapsulation of Cygnus by the rocket's payload fairing, and finally, the roll-out and initial on-pad operations that are currently scheduled for December 15.
As these operational events are completed we will issue updates on this mission information page and via our Twitter and Facebook accounts.