First Cygnus Flight to ISS Set for December

Artist’s conception of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus freighter approaching the International Space Station. (Credit: OSC)

Launch Date Set For First Orbital COTS Demo Aviation Week

NASA has set Dec. 14 as the target launch date for Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) cargo demonstration mission. Meanwhile, the company says it continues to make progress with NASA toward attaining safety clearance for the mission, in which its Cygnus spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

The flight is scheduled to include delivery of a token cargo load using Orbital’s first Cygnus visiting vehicle, a service module combined with a pressurized cargo module (PCM). It is expected to be preceded by a Taurus II “risk-reduction” mission, which is still awaiting funding approval from Congress…

[Orbital Vice President Carl] Walz says the procedure will entail flying up to match the station’s orbit before using GPS satellites to “align the system and fly automatically up the R-bar,” a standard approach method based on using the radius vector to the Earth’s center. “Once we’re within 10 meters, we will go to ‘free drift’ mode and allow the ISS crew to grapple us,” he adds.

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