Antares test sets stage for first launch

The first stage of an Antares rocket conducts a “hot fire” test at the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia on February 22. (credit: Orbital Sciences Corp.)

A successful “hot fire” test Friday night is expected to clear the way for the first launch, in just over a month, of a new medium-class launch […]

Orbital planning hot fire test of Antares next week

Orbital Sciences Corporation plans to perform a hot fire test of the first stage of its new Antares rocket as soon as next Tuesday, a key milestone before the rocket’s first launch next month. Speaking at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington on Wednesday, Frank Culbertson, executive vice president and general manager for […]

SpaceX prepares for its next ISS mission while Orbital inches closer to flight

The two companies with International Space Station commercial cargo delivery contracts, Orbital Sciences Corporation and SpaceX, are at different stages in their efforts to carry out those contracts, with SpaceX having already completed one of its twelve contracted missions while Orbital continues to prepare for the first launches of its Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus […]

Antares inches closer to launch

Illustration of Orbital’s Antares rocket lifting off from the Mid-Altantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Virginia. (Credit: OSC)

In July, Orbital Sciences Corporation announced a new schedule for the initial tests of its Antares rocket, including the first launches of the vehicle that will be used to send the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS. […]

No bull: Orbital rebrands the Taurus 2 the Antares

Illustration of Orbital's Antares (formerly Taurus 2) rocket lifting off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Virginia. (Credit: OSC)

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced Monday that it has renamed the Taurus 2 rocket it’s been developing as part of its commercial cargo system. Henceforth, the rocket will now be called Antares. “We are transitioning […]

Updates on SpaceX and Orbital’s COTS progress

Much of the attention commercial spaceflight has been getting recently has been focused on NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, including, as noted here, concerns about contracting mechanisms for future phases of the program. But CCDev is very much based on the earlier Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program for developing commercial cargo transportation to […]

Orbital may wind down its commercial crew effort

Orbital Sciences was one of the companies that submitted CCDev-2 proposals but did not get funded, raising the question of whether they will stay involved in the larger commercial crew effort. On Thursday, company officials indicated they would likely not pursue further work in this area.

“It was disappointing that we weren’t selected” for a […]

Assessing the CCDev-2 losers

Monday afternoon NASA announced the award of nearly $270 million to four companies for the second round of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev-2) program. The four winners, and their awards, are:

Blue Origin: $22 million Boeing: $92.3 million Sierra Nevada Corporation: $80 million SpaceX: $75 million

Those companies will work on their vehicle concepts under […]

Orbital’s commercial crew interest isn’t new

Left: An illustration from the early 2000s of an Orbital Sciences space taxi concept launching atop a Delta 4 Heavy. Right: Orbital’s new concept for a commercial crew vehicle visiting the ISS.

Orbital Sciences got a lot of attention earlier this month when it announced it had submitted a proposal to NASA for its […]

Virgin joins forces with two companies on CCDev

At the Spaceport American runway dedication in October, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson surprised some people when he said that the company “is going to put forward proposals” for NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program and “plan to start work on an orbital program quite quickly”. Today, Virgin confirmed its interest in orbital spaceflight, but those […]