Antares rocket’s return-to-flight likely to be delayed by more than a month until August
Officials said the first launch of redesigned Antares rocket of Orbital ATK since an engine failure decided the destiny of a mission in 2014 will probably get delayed by over 30 days till August for the completion of analysis of data obtained during a first stage hotfire test.
The hold-down firing of the two new RD-181 engines of Antares rocket, which was held on May 31, was a main preparatory step for the cargo booster’s return-to-flight, which then Orbital ATK said would take place in July with a Cygnus supply ship going towards the International Space Station.
Orbital ATK and the US space agency NASA managers, who control the schedule for the space station’s US cargo vehicles, had decided July 6 as a preliminary launch date.
According to an Orbital ATK spokesperson, engineers have been studying data from the 30-second hotfire test on the Antares launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia that held previous month. Besides data crunching, the engineers of the company have also been adjusting the trajectory on which the two-stage rocket is going to fly post-blastoff from its seaside launch complex.
In a statement, the company said, “Our Antares team recently completed a successful stage test and is wrapping up the test data analysis. Final trajectory shaping work is also currently underway, which is likely to result in an updated launch schedule in the August timeframe”.
The 139-foot-tall rocket will deliver Cygnus cargo craft of Orbital ATK to orbit. The automated supply freighter, dubbed as the SS Alan Poindexter in remembrance of the late space shuttle astronaut, will carry nearly 5,290 pounds of provisions, experiments and other cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
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