mid atlantic regional spaceport


Antares Rocket Launch (NHQ201610170110) by NASA HQ PHOTO
Via Flickr:
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station is delivering over 5,100 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)


More photos from yesterday’s rollout of the Antares 230 rocket carrying the OA-5 mission.

Following a 2014 launch mishap caused by defects in the AJ-26 engines, Orbital ATK redesigned the Antares to use the RD-181 powerplant, similar to the Atlas V’s. With 25% more thrust than previous versions, Antares can now loft the larger Enhanced Cygnus variant of the cargo freighter. Previous flights of the Enhanced Cygnus flew on Atlas V rockets from Cape Canaveral.

Orbital ATK also incorporated a larger solid rocket motor as its second stage, the Castor 30XL. OA-5 marks the return of Orbital’s launch campaigns at Wallops’ Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

Liftoff is scheduled for 8:03pm EDT Sunday, October 16.


OA-5 encapsulated ahead of rollout, Antares prepares for Return to Flight.

Orbital ATK’s S.S. Alan Poindexter Cygnus cargo freighter was encapsulated in the payload faring of its Antares 230 rocket Tuesday, October 11, at the company’s processing facility at Wallops Island, Virginia.

Rollout from the Horizontal Integration Facility to Pad 0A is expected for Thursday afternoon ahead of Sunday evening’s launch attempt.

OA-5 marks the return to flight for Orbital’s Antares rocket following a catastrophic launch failure in 2014 that destroyed the Orb-3 mission. That failure was traced to defects in the rocket’s original AJ-60 engines, which Orbital replaced with the RD-181 engine for all future Antares variants.

Antares launches from the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. The company’s Cygnus spacecraft flew its first three missions from Wallops before the Orb-3 mishap. Two flights were lofted on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Florida while the Virginia facilities were undergoing repairs and the rocket was being redesigned.

Orbital tested the new RD-181 engines earlier this summer ahead of the return to flight mission, which was initially scheduled for May. Delays in vehicle and spacecraft readiness pushed the flight into early October, which was then delayed by Hurricane Nicole.

Liftoff is scheduled for 8:03 pm EDT, and should be visible from the large population center’s on the Eastern seaboard.

P/c: Orbital ATK.


Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, where LADEE launched from this past weekend. The Minotaur V vehicle launched about 14 hours prior to these photos being taken. The flame duct showed charring from the booster, including sand that was fused into a brittle-like material, which I have samples of. The last photo shows some of the melted material at the base of the flame duct.


Pad 0A at the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport. This is where Orbital Sciences launches their Antares vehicles to the International Space station. The day I went (Saturday afternoon), Orbital Technicians were finalizing the vehicle support struts for next week’s Antares rollout. The last picture is the Horizontal Integration Facility, where the Cygnus resupply craft is mated to Antares, and subsequently rolled out to the pad. The vehicle is scheduled to launch on 17 September, and I’ll be about 4 miles away.