Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bully for Orbital Sciences

We have another commercial mission off to the International Space Station. Orbital's Antares light/medium launcher is now 3 for 3 in flights with the Cygnus spacecraft.  Cygnus carries supplies for the ISS and many student experiments, plus and no fewer than 32 nanosatellites for customers of the partner firm NanoRacks LLC. (NanoRacks partners with SpaceX and other providers, US and abroad, to get CubeSat-based nanosatellites to the ISS, where they are launched from Japan's Kibo module. )
Of the smaller firms contending for NASA-funded missions, Orbital is actually a much older firm that SpaceX, but was out of the spotlight for a while with minimal demand (or rather, minimal desire on the government's part to budget for)  launches of its Pegasus air-launch vehicle and the Minotaur series of converted ICBMs.  SpaceX had a good run going with its larger Falcon 9 until a recent glitch that stopped launch of the Orbcomm Generation 2 small communications satellites. It's scheduled to try again on Monday, 14 July. 
So congratulations to Orbital and good luck to SpaceX!

UPDATE: And bully for SpaceX and a perfect launch of the Falcon 9!

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