Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that it is in final preparations to launch the company’s Antares™ rocket carrying its Cygnus™ cargo spacecraft destined for the International Space Station (ISS). Pending completion of final vehicle testing and acceptable local weather conditions, the launch will take place on Wednesday, January 8, with lift-off scheduled for 1:32 p.m. EST, and will originate from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. The Antares medium-class rocket will boost the Cygnus spacecraft into a targeted orbit of approximately 130 x 185 miles (210 x 298 kilometers) above the Earth, inclined at 51.6 degrees to the equator. Following in-orbit activation and testing after launch, Cygnus is slated to rendezvous and berth with the Space Station in the early morning hours on Sunday, January 12. Live coverage of the cargo supply mission will be available on NASA Television and at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.
“Orbital conducted a very successful demonstration mission of the Antares/Cygnus system last September, proving that the company can reliably carry out regularly scheduled operational missions to the ISS for NASA,” said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Now our team is focused on executing another flawless launch and in-orbit operation to deliver much-needed supplies to the astronaut crew on board the Space Station.”
Under a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA, Orbital will use Antares and Cygnus to deliver up to 44,000 pounds (20,000 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS over eight missions through late 2016. For these missions, NASA will manifest a variety of essential items based on ISS program needs, including food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts and equipment, and scientific experiments.
For the first CRS mission, the Cygnus spacecraft is carrying 2,780 pounds (1,260 kilograms) of supplies to the Space Station, including science experiments to expand the research capability of the Expedition 38 crew members aboard the orbiting laboratory, along with crew provisions, spare parts and experiment hardware. Also aboard the flight are 23 student experiments that will involve more than 8,600 elementary, junior high and high school students from the United States and Canada. These experiments address life sciences topics ranging from vaccine effectiveness and amoeba reproduction to calcium loss in bones and liquid behavior in space. This mission, together with future Cygnus flights, will ensure a robust national capability to deliver critical research equipment and samples to orbit, significantly increasing NASA's ability to conduct new scientific investigations in the only laboratory in microgravity.