Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft was filled with late-load cargo on May 15, 2018, in preparation for the company’s CRS-9 resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. J.R. Thompson, is scheduled for launch aboard an Orbital ATK Antares rocket at 5:04 a.m. EDT on May 20 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
At NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft was moved from payload processing to spacecraft fueling early on the morning of April 30.
The Cygnus for the CRS-9 mission — Orbital ATK’s ninth contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station — is scheduled to launch aboard the company’s Antares rocket no earlier than 5:04 a.m. EDT May 20.
Launch will be from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A at NASA Wallops.
Cargo resupply by U.S. companies ensures a national capability to deliver critical science research to the space station, significantly increasing NASA’s ability to conduct new science investigations in the world’s only microgravity laboratory.
More information about Orbital ATK’s cargo resupply work with NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk
Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft teams have reported to their stations, and the formal countdown has begun. Antares is on schedule for launch tonight, Oct. 17, at 7:40 p.m. EDT, and Orbital ATK reports conditions are nominal. The Wallops Weather Office forecast (issued at L-minus 24 hours) is 95 percent go: “As our weather continues to be influenced by high pressure, we will see a great weather setup once again for the launch attempt on Monday, with only a very slight chance of thick clouds expected.”
Orbital ATK completed a stage test at the end of May and final data review has confirmed the test was successful, clearing the way for the Antares return to flight. Simultaneously, the company has been conducting final integration and check out of the flight vehicle that will launch the OA-5 mission to ensure that all technical, quality and safety standards are met or exceeded.
Due to a variety of interrelated factors, including the company’s continuing processing, inspection and testing of the flight vehicle at Wallops Island, and NASA’s scheduling of crew activities on the International Space Station in preparation for upcoming cargo and crew launches, Orbital ATK is currently working with NASA to target a window in the second half of September for the launch of the OA-5 mission. A more specific launch date will be identified in the coming weeks.
To date, Orbital ATK has carried out five cargo logistics mission for NASA under the COTS and CRS programs.
Orbital ATK is out with a short feature about the Enhanced Cygnus spacecraft that will carry experiments, equipment and supplies to the International Space Station crew in December. The new spacecraft carries 25 percent more cargo than its predecessor and features a number of changes such as the more efficient solar arrays seen unfurled in the photo above from Orbital ATK. Read more from Orbital ATK here.
The Enhanced Cygnus is to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with about 5,900 pounds of materials. The spacecraft will not carry any crew. Station astronauts will use the robotic arm on the orbiting laboratory to grasp the Enhanced Cygnus as it approaches and connect it to a port for unloading.
The Wallops Incident Response Team completed today an initial assessment of Wallops Island, Virginia, following the catastrophic failure of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket shortly after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
“I want to praise the launch team, range safety, all of our emergency responders and those who provided mutual aid and support on a highly-professional response that ensured the safety of our most important resource — our people,” said Bill Wrobel, Wallops director. “In the coming days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue to assess the damage on the island and begin the process of moving forward to restore our space launch capabilities. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will rebound stronger than ever.”
The initial assessment is a cursory look; it will take many more weeks to further understand and analyze the full extent of the effects of the event. A number of support buildings in the immediate area have broken windows and imploded doors. A sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the pad, and buildings nearest the pad, suffered the most severe damage.
At Pad 0A the initial assessment showed damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning suppression rods, as well as debris around the pad.
The Wallops team also met with a group of state and local officials, including the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Marine Police, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Wallops environmental team also is conducting assessments at the site. Preliminary observations are that the environmental effects of the launch failure were largely contained within the southern third of Wallops Island, in the area immediately adjacent to the pad. Immediately after the incident, the Wallops’ industrial hygienist collected air samples at the Wallops mainland area, the Highway 175 causeway, and on Chincoteague Island. No hazardous substances were detected at the sampled locations.
Additional air, soil and water samples will be collected from the incident area as well as at control sites for comparative analysis.
The Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Resources Commission reported today they have not observed any obvious signs of water pollution, such as oil sheens. Furthermore, initial assessments have not revealed any obvious impacts to fish or wildlife resources. The Incident Response Team continues to monitor and assess.
Following the initial assessment, the response team will open the area of Wallops Island, north of the island flagpole opposite of the launch pad location, to allow the U.S. Navy to return back to work.
Anyone who finds debris or damage to their property in the vicinity of the launch mishap is cautioned to stay away from it and call the Incident Response Team at 757-824-1295.
Further updates on the situation and the progress of the ongoing investigation will be available at:
The following statement is from William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, regarding the launch failure that occurred at Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia during the attempted launch of Orbital Sciences Corp’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft at 6:22 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.
“While NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today, we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap. The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies.
“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success. Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”
Damage related to the Oct. 28 launch attempt of an Antares rocket was contained to the hazard area, but there may have been a scattering of debris. Public safety is our No. 1 priority. If people find debris in the vicinity of the launch, please stay away and call the Incident Response Team at 757-824-1295.
The Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket lifted off to start its third resupply mission to the International Space Station, but suffered a catastrophic anomaly shortly after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT.
The Orbital Sciences team is executing its contingency procedures, securing the site and data, including all telemetry from the Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus spacecraft.
Before launch the Orbital team was not tracking any issues.
No injuries have been reported, and Orbital reports that all personnel around the Wallops Flight Facility launch site have been accounted for.
NASA will continue to provide additional updates as they become available. A news conference will be held on NASA TV at 9 p.m. EDT.
Visit http://1.usa.gov/1r42Ssu for the latest information.
The countdown is progressing smoothly for the 6:22 p.m. EDT launch of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft. There are no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft being worked. The weather for this evening’s launch is at 100-percent favorable. Cygnus will carry some 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.
Live coverage on NASA TV is under way.