Search results for: "orbital sciences"

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Here’s The Latest On The Virgin Galactic And Antares Rocket Explosions

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Antares' launch pad

Antares’ launch pad

This week, both the Antares and Virgin Galactic test flights resulted in catastrophe. In the wake of these disasters, more details have been released and we’re back with the latest news on both.

Orbital Sciences confirmed that an operator at the Wallops Range Control Center deployed the Antares rocket’s Flight Termination System, resulting in Tuesday’s explosion. The operator engaged the sequence when it became clear that there was a major problem, and terminating the flight earlier was a much safer option than waiting, as an explosion later in the process could have impacted a more populated area.

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Virgin Galactic Test Flight Crashes, Killing One Pilot And Injuring Another, Details Here

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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

Tuesday’s news about Orbital Sciences’ rocket explosion was bad, but the silver lining was that no one got hurt. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the said today. A Virgin Galactic spaceship has crashed in the Mojave Desert, resulting in the death of one pilot and injuries to the other.

This is a developing news story, so more details will come to light after we post this, and we’ll be sure to keep you informed of any developments. Right now, we’re checking a number of different sources trying to round up what know for sure. As with any catastrophe, there is contradictory information out there, and scant information there has been more investigation.

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Unmanned Rocket Bound For ISS Explodes

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antares explosionOne of Orbital Science’s Antares rockets exploded yesterday, just seconds after launch from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Orbital Sciences is one of the private companies contracted to bring supplies to the ISS — it was the second private company to complete a cargo run to the ISS (SpaceX was the first). Yesterday’s flight would have been the third such mission for Orbital Sciences, but instead, it’s entering the record books for another, grimmer reason.

While the explosion shook those near the launch site and was by some likened to a small earthquake, no one was injured. It isn’t clear yet what happened, and today an investigation team began sifting through data, while another started sorting through debris near the crash site. Frank Culbertson, Orbital Sciences’ executive vice president, says the company will “get things back on track,” and that such an occurrence is, unfortunately, all too common, but they’ve “all seen the teams recover from this, and we will do the same.” Of course, that can’t happen until damage to the launch pad and other infrastructure is repaired, so it might be a while.

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ISS Gets A Four-Year Extension

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ISSI’m not sure if you knew that the International Space Station had a pre-planned death date. Maybe that’s being melodramatic. Let’s call it decommissioning and deorbiting. Whatever name you slap on it, the ISS’s final days were planned for 2020. While there are only a handful of people, robots, and private companies who will be directly affected when facility powers down, the significance and symbolism loom large. The ISS is a symbol of cosmic collaboration, as well as the first step of the realization of the dream that people will one day live and work in space. So let’s all celebrate because the station just received a four-year extension, and will be in service until 2024. If nothing else, that’s four more years of Chris Hadfield videos.

The Obama administration announced the plan to keep the ISS running until 2024, although obviously the current President will be long out of office by then and whoever comes next could potentially reverse that decision. But the next Chief of Staff is unlikely to do so, and not because he or she is a fan of the station, not only because the ISS cost about $100 billion to make and has prompted over 100 rocket launches and spacewalks, but also because getting it down safely is an undertaking.

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3, 2, 1 — Uh Oh, SpaceX Reschedules Falcon 9 Rocket Launch For Thursday

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Falcon 9

Earlier today, SpaceX’s website was counting down, stopping, then counting down again, then stopping again, scrubbing the launch that was scheduled to take place at approximately 5:37pm EST. On Thursday, SpaceX will again attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket for a GEO Transfer Mission. The rocket, which will launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, will put an Orbital Sciences SES-8 satellite, designed to support Southeast Asian communications needs for about 15 years, into a geostationary transfer orbit. Then, about a half-hour after launch, the Falcon 9 will deliver the satellite into geostationary orbit at about 22,000 miles above Earth, roughly 25% of the way to the moon. Many launchers deliver a satellite in two phases, or burns, depending on how long and how much power it takes to reach the first apogee. The transfer to geostatic orbit phase is usually performed via solar power, which reduces overall costs. This launch is SpaceX’s first attempt at putting a communications satellite in orbit.

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Orbital Science’s Cygnus Spacecraft Docks With The ISS

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CygnusThis morning, Orbital Sciences became the second commercial space company to dock a ship to the International Space Station (SpaceX was the first).

On September 18th, Orbital’s Antares rocket launched the spacecraft Cygnus from the Virginia Wallops Flight Facility. Cygnus attempted a first docking on September 22nd, but a software glitch involving the format of the GPS data from the ISS caused the week-long delay — apparently Cygnus’s GPS format was older than the Japanese PROX system in use on the ISS. For the past week, Cygnus has been hanging out about 2.5 miles from the station, waiting for its orbit to realign with that of the ISS, and waiting for a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to arrive at the station. The ISS’s air traffic controllers apparently aren’t used to jockeying multiple spacecraft at once.