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October 8-14, 2012 / Vol 31, No 41 / Hawai`i Island, USA

5 Oct 2012, 20:25 UTC
October 8-14, 2012 / Vol 31, No 41 / Hawai`i Island, USA
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Orbital’s Cygnus Tailing the Dragon: New Dimension of Spaceflight on Horizon
Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) has three major milestones ahead as they work towards the 2013 start of a US$1.9M contract for 8 operational cargo delivery missions with the Cygnus spacecraft carrying a total of 20,000kg to the International Space Station. First, around the end of October an on-pad hot-fire test of the Antares launch vehicle first stage will be performed. About a month later, the fully operational Antares rocket will perform a maiden flight carrying a heavily instrumented mass simulator payload and deploying 4 pico-Satellites. Next a Cygnus demonstration flight will rendezvous and dock with the ISS delivering 550kg of cargo. The company operates from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, described by CEO David W. Thompson as “the first all-new large-scale liquid-fuel launch site to be built in the U.S. in decades.” Independent, private / commercial, NewSpace ventures like Orbital Sciences Corporation and Space Exploration Technologies aim to revolutionize and greatly expand access to space. With NewSpace as of yet limited to cargo, China Shenzhou is currently the most modern human spacecraft flying. William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA indicated recently that from 2014 the ...

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