Antares static test fire slated for NET May 31
Orbital ATK and NASA are planning on conducting a static test fire of the Antares 230 rocket’s first stage on May 31 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility located in Virginia. The Dulles, Virginia-based company has three hours and 15 minutes to carry out the test of the two RD-181 rocket engines in the launch vehicle’s first stage.
Should the need arise, Orbital ATK has backup test dates through June 5, 2016.
Next Tuesday, Orbital ATK plans to ignite the two RD-181 rocket engines in Antares’ first stage for about a half a minute. Engineers with the company will ramp the engines up to 100 percent power (thrust). The Antares 230 will be secured to Pad-0A as the test fire is carried out.
If everything goes according to plan, this test will validate the newly-renovated launch pad’s fueling systems as well as Antares’ readiness to carry out the OA-5 resupply run to the International Space Station.
With range support provided by NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, the static fire test will be one of the most visible (and audible) milestones that Antares will need to undertake prior to the rocket launching the OA-5 Cygnus spacecraft and its payload of cargo, experiments, and crew supplies to the International Space Station, as early as this summer.
The Antares 230, along with the “Enhanced” Cygnus spacecraft are being flown by Orbital ATK under the $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract that the company has signed with NASA.
NASA public affairs noted that when the test has been completed, it will be announced on WFF’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Due to the extensive test window and the non-operational nature of the test, there will be no live webcast or formal public viewing.
This mission will be the first for Antares since the Oct. 28, 2014, loss of the Orb-3 Antares and Cygnus spacecraft. The duo were approximately 12 seconds into flight when one of the two AJ26 rocket engines in Antares’ first stage encountered a failure in its turbopump.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.