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Orbital Plans COTS Demo Launch on September 17
March 7, 2013

Orbital's COTS operational system consists of an International Space Station (ISS) visiting vehicle, a new privately-developed medium-class launch vehicle, and all necessary mission planning and operations facilities and services.

Orbital is developing and qualifying a new launch vehicle (called Antares) to enable lower-cost COTS launches as well as future NASA science and exploration, commercial and national security space missions. Antares will leverage Orbital's industry-leading experience in developing, building and operating small launch vehicles.

The image to the right is an artist's rendering of Orbital's Antares space launch vehicle shown on the launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore preparing to launch the company's CygnusTM cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station on a cargo mission for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Service (COTS) program.

Please click any of these links to learn more about Antares.

Antares Fact Sheet
Cygnus Fact Sheet
Cygnus Updates
Antares Home Page
Antares Overview
Animation of ISS Cargo Delivery mission

Orbital's COTS Visiting Vehicle (CVV), called Cygnus, is made up of a common Service Module (SM) with interchangeable pressurized and unpressurized cargo modules. It is designed to provide the cargo with electrical power and heat dissipation for the duration of the mission. The CVV is compatible with Orbital's Antares launch vehicle as well as other launchers such as the Delta IV and Atlas V EELVs. The CVV design is based on service module that interfaces with a cargo module.

The cargo module is a Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) similar to the flight-proven ISS Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) developed and built by Orbital's partner Thales-Alenia Space. Smaller and lighter than the MPLM, the PCM uses a Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) as the pressurized cargo transfer interface to the ISS. The SM is integrated and tested in Orbital's Dulles, Virginia Satellite Manufacturing Facility (SMF), then shipped to Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) where Orbital personnel integrate it with the loaded cargo module and then integrate the combined Cygnus vehicle to the Antares launch vehicle.
Orbital's CygnusTM cargo spacecraft is shown approaching the International Space Station in this artist's rendering of the in-orbit operations of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Service (COTS) program in the image to the right.

Please click here to learn more about Orbital.

SAA Milestones

Milestone # Description Planned Date Approved
1 Program Plan Review Mar 08 Completed
2 Demo Mission SRR Jun 08 Completed
3 Unpressurized Cargo Module PDR Jul 08 Completed
5 COTS Integration/Operations Facility Review Sep 08 Completed
6 Pressurized Cargo Module PDR Oct 08 Completed
8 IP&CL Delivery Feb 09 Completed
9 Complete Phase 1 SRP Mar 09 Completed
10 COTS System PDR Apr 09 Completed
11 Pressurized Cargo Module CDR Jul 09 Completed
12 Cygnus Avionics Test Aug 09 Completed
13 Complete Phase 2 SRP Aug 09 Completed
14 COTS System CDR Sep 09 Completed
15 Service Module Core Assembly Complete Dec 09 Completed
16 Service Module TRR Apr 10 Completed
17 Service Module Initial Performance Test Complete Jul 10 Completed
18 Launch Vehicle Stage 1 Assembly Complete Oct 10  
19 Cargo Integration Demonstration Dec 10 Completed
20 Mission Readiness Review Feb 11  
21 Demo Flight Mar 11  
22 Mission Concept Review Dec 10 Completed
23 Antares Maiden Flight PMA Feb 11 Completed
24 DR Cygnus Mass Simulator Mar 11 Completed
25 Install Additional PITL Simulators Apr 11 Completed
26 PROX FEU Test Unit May 11 Completed
27 Antares Maiden Flight Sage 1 Core Delivery Apr 11 Completed
28 Antares Maiden Flight Upper Stage Delivery Jun 11 Completed
29 Antares Maiden Flight CMS Delivery Jun 11 Completed
30 Antares Maiden Flight Stage 1 Assembly Jul 11 Completed
31 Antares Maiden Flight Oct 11  


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Orbital Antares. Image Credit: Orbital
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Orbital Cygnus. Image Credit: Orbital
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Page Last Updated: September 10th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator