Friday, October 21, 2016

Orbital ATK's Antares Rocket Returns to Flight With ISS Cyrngus Resupply Mission

In its first flight in nearly two years, an Orbital ATK Antares successfully launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station Oct. 17.

The Antares lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, at 7:45 p.m. Eastern, at the end of a five-minute launch window. The launch shifted from the beginning to the end of the window because of an unspecified but minor engine issue.

The launch itself went as planned, as the RD-181 engines in the first stage and the Castor 30XL motor in the second stage accelerated the Cygnus spacecraft, on a mission designated OA-5, into orbit. The Cygnus separated from the Antares’ upper stage nine minutes after liftoff.

The launch was the first for the Antares since an October 2014 mission that suffered an engine failure seconds after liftoff, causing the vehicle to fall back to the ground and explode. That explosion caused $15 million in damage to the launch site. Orbital ATK decided shortly after that accident to replace the AJ26 engines previously used on the Antares with new RD-181 engines from NPO Energomash.

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