Later this year a new Goddard Wallops Island launch complex will launch a payload to the international space station which will be visible from the north eastern united states. The Wallops Flight Facility will provide launch range support for an Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket engine test scheduled for Feb. 22 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A.
The window for the engine test, or hot fire, is 6- 9 p.m. EST.The test will be visible and audible in the Wallops Island local area. Given the broad window and non-operational nature of the test, no live webcast or formal public viewing is planned. NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility will provide range support for the hot fire, including communications, data collection, range safety and area clearance.
The test is a key milestone leading up to the first flight of the Antares rocket, which is preliminary scheduled for about four to six weeks following the completion of the engine test.
Orbital is building and testing its new rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.
A demonstration flight of Antares and Cygnus to the space station is planned for later this year. Following the successful completion of the COTS demonstration mission to the station, Orbital will begin regular cargo resupply flights to the orbiting laboratory through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
The launch pad is the first of its kind constructed in the United States in decades. Preparations at the pad for the hot fire test were enabled through partnership between the Spaceport, Orbital and NASA, including representatives from Wallops; NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss.; NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida; NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, Ala.; and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Housto
With the amount paid per launch for lesser capability and the huge subsidy of making Wallops flight ready for orbital vehicles, and the borrowed rocket motors, Orbital has received a huge subsidy that was not given to SpacX or other competitors. Orbital has had repeated quality related issues with the launches that it has made so far. There is almost zero creative contribution by Orbital in their entire systems, so why should they be further encouraged. The only reason that I can detect is that they, like ULA, have benefited from a long time relationship with DOD and NASA with constant exchange of of program management from those sources. As noted above, they cannot even return their orbital vehicles with cargo, which makes their vehicles much less useful to the ISS. I think I understand, and I don’t like what that means.
I too was suprised at the contunued use of Orbital, but there it is. The loss of Glory due to the failure of the Orbital rocket faring to separate comes to mind. This was the second malfunction after the Failure Review Board and remediations from the first failure. It does cause some concern as you stated about the quality issues.
What I am pleased to see is the capability to launch this class rock from Wallops. Of course that is not good news for the cape in Florida as they will be loosing work.
For most purposes, Wallops is slightly less efficient than the Cape, but neither matches equatorial sites. I’m having trouble seeing what you see in Wallops. Give me a clue.
1) I live near it :^)
2) There is a huge population near it which will now be exposed to the launches which could help NASA in making a larger part of the population understand and support the missions.
3) It is cheaper to launch from there. The overhead cost at Kennedy drives the cos to launch from there up.
4) Redundancy of launch complexes on the east coast.
Since the overhead at Kennedy is already in place and being paid for, I can’t see the advantage. Withe the reduction in NASA and DOD launches from Kennedy, there are more than enough available launch facilities there. Wallops requires very expensive range safety manning levels that duplicate those at Kennedy.
I also seem to remember you complaining about a less than 10% reduction in efficiency with the SpaceX return-to-launch-site setup, and now, you espouse a launch site that is less efficient for every rocket launched from it, over nine degrees further north than Kennedy.
You have a slight point about further exposure of launches, but with the problems of ORBCOM, that exposure has not been exactly positive. Maybe that will change.
On the other hand, I would love to live near a launch site. I’m stuck with NASA TV.