FAA Approves Orbital Sciences Demonstration Flight To ISS
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given Orbital Sciences the go-ahead to launch a demonstration flight to the International Space Station next year.
The first launch of the company’s Cygnus cargo module aboard a Taurus II rocket is planned for late February from Wallops Island, Virginia. Orbital said an expanded FAA license covering that launch was expected soon.
“We are very pleased to have been granted the Commercial Space Transportation Launch License by the FAA well in advance of our scheduled launch date in early 2012,” said Mr. Brent Collins, Orbital´s Senior Vice President and Taurus II Program Manager.
“We feel this is a great vote of confidence in our launch vehicle design, the robustness of its subsystems, the thoroughness of our processes, and the training and operational experience of our launch team.”
Orbital is one of two U.S. companies holding contracts from NASA for commercial space flights. SpaceX, the other company who was awarded a contract, hopes to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on a demonstration flight November 30.
New crews are unable to fly to the station until Russia completes an investigation concerning last week’s failed resupply mission.
Image Caption: Artist rendering of Cygnus spacecraft approaching the International Space Station. Courtesy of Orbital Sciences Corporation
On the Net: