Insider Exclusive: Orbital ATK’s Dan Tani talks OA-6 Cygnus
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Orbital ATK and NASA highlighted the progress being made toward having the next Commercial Resupply Services mission fly to the International Space Station during a media event held at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) on Tuesday, March 8. During which the aerospace firm’s Dan Tani announced key details regarding the flight of the enhanced Cygnus spacecraft.
SpaceFlight Insider spoke with Tani, a space shuttle veteran, who has roared to orbit twice on NASA’s now-retired orbiters. He discussed the upcoming OA-6 mission and what has brought the Dulles, Virginia-based company’s vehicle to the current state in its development.
One of the things that was revealed about the OA-6 cargo freighter was its name – the S.S. Rick Husband. Husband was the commander of STS-107, the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. He and the other members of the crew lost their lives when the orbiter broke apart in the skies above Texas on Feb. 1, 2003.
This Cygnus is currently scheduled to launch on March 22, 2016, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida.
This will mark the second of two Cygnus launches on the Atlas V. If everything goes according to plan, the next time that a Cygnus is sent to the International Space Station, it will be on the upgraded “Enhanced” Antares 230 launch vehicle.
For Tani, this will be a special mission. One that he, as a former astronaut, as well as crew members either at or bound for the orbiting laboratory, will see honoring a fallen friend and colleague.
“We have chosen to use fallen astronauts as our naming source. The first few were obvious because we had employees at Orbital ATK that were former astronauts […],” Tani noted. “Rick Husband was a fantastic astronaut, commander of [STS] 107, Columbia, which we lost in 2003. The connection with Orbital ATK is that his first flight on STS-96 was commanded by Kent Rominger; he’s the vice president at Orbital ATK in Utah and a fantastic guy.”
Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider with elements provided by Orbital ATK /NASA
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.