- A “blended lifting body” vehicle that will launch atop an expendable launch vehicle and return to Earth with a conventional runway landing. This design derives from studies performed by Orbital for NASA under the Orbital Space Plane program between 2000 and 2003.
- The vehicle would seat four astronauts, providing a cost-effective solution for NASA’s astronaut transportation needs, as well as enabling future commercial applications.
- The proposal baselines using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, but is flexible enough to accommodate other launch vehicle options.
- Thales Alenia Space, which is responsible for the vehicle’s pressurized crew compartment
- Northrop Grumman, which is the lead airframe structures designer
- Honeywell and Draper Laboratory, which together are responsible for the human-rated avionics
- United Launch Alliance, which is responsible for the vehicle’s baseline launch vehicle
Orbital is already under contract with NASA to provide unmanned cargo logistics services to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program using a commercial system consisting of the company’s Taurus ® II medium-class space launch vehicle, its Cygnus™ cargo logistics spacecraft and a ground-based command and control systems. Orbital is slated to carry out a demonstration flight of the combined system in 2011, followed by operational cargo delivery services beginning in early 2012.About Orbital Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S. Government agencies and laboratories. More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com. Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6545327&lang=en