Launch Aboard ULA Atlas V Rocket Is First of Four Cygnus Cargo
Missions Scheduled For NASA Over the Next Year
S.S. Deke Slayton II Spacecraft Operating as Planned Early in
Mission; Arrival at Space Station Scheduled for Early Morning on
DULLES, Va.Dec. 6, 2015--
Orbital ATK (NYSE:OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense
technologies, successfully launched its CygnusTM
spacecraft today aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch
vehicle with approximately 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of cargo for
the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS), beginning the
company s fourth operational cargo resupply mission for NASA. Cygnus
will deliver vital equipment, supplies and scientific experiments to the
ISS as part of its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.
Orbital ATK s Cygnus Spacecraft carrying vital cargo to resupply the International Space Station lifts-off aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. (Credit: Orbital ATK)
Lift-off of the Atlas V rocket took place at 4:45 p.m. (EST) from Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Following a 21-minute ascent, the
S.S. Deke Slayton II Cygnus spacecraft was successfully deployed into
its intended orbit approximately 144 miles above the Earth, inclined at
51.6 degrees to the equator. Orbital ATK s engineering team confirmed
that reliable communications has been established and that the vehicle s
solar arrays are fully deployed, providing the necessary electrical
power to operate the spacecraft.
This launch marks the completion of the critical first step of our
go-forward plan for the CRS-1 contract to meet our commitments to NASA,
said Frank Culbertson, President of Orbital ATK s Space System Group.
Everything looks great in this early stage of the mission. I
congratulate the combined NASA, ULA and Orbital ATK team for its hard
work to get us to this point, and I look forward to completing another
safe and successful flight to the ISS in several days.
The Cygnus spacecraft will be grappled at approximately 6:10 a.m. on
Wednesday, December 9. Cygnus will remain attached to the station for
approximately 50 days before departing with roughly 5,050 pounds (2,300
kilograms) of disposable cargo for a safe, destructive reentry over the
Like most Orbital ATK spacecraft, Cygnus is compatible with multiple
launch vehicles. This capability, combined with the flexibility of ULA s
Atlas V, enabled Orbital ATK to carry out the mission on a shortened
schedule to be responsive to NASA s ISS logistics requirements. Another
Cygnus mission on an Atlas V will be launched in March, after which
Orbital ATK s Antares
rocket will launch at least two ISS resupply missions in the second and
fourth quarters of 2016.
This launch begins a high tempo of cargo resupply missions supporting
the International Space Station, said Culbertson. With our enhanced
Cygnus spacecraft and upgraded Antares rocket, we are prepared to
continue delivering vital cargo to the ISS for the foreseeable future.
The enhanced Cygnus spacecraft that launched today incorporated numerous
planned upgrades of the vehicle including an extended pressurized cargo
module (PCM), which enables the spacecraft to carry over 50 percent more
cargo than the previous version. The enhanced Cygnus also uses the
latest in lightweight space-qualified electrical power technology with
the addition of the company s UltraFlexTM solar arrays which
were manufactured at Orbital ATK s Goleta, California facility.
Under the CRS contract with NASA, Orbital ATK will deliver approximately
62,000 pounds (28,000 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS over 10 missions
through early 2018. For these missions, NASA will manifest a variety of
essential items based on ISS program needs, including food, clothing,
crew supplies, spare parts, laboratory equipment and scientific
experiments. Orbital ATK also provides a critical service by providing
large-volume pressurized disposal cargo, a unique capability among
America s commercial cargo providers.
The Cygnus system, which consists of a common service module and a
pressurized cargo module, achieves high reliability by incorporating
numerous elements from flight-proven spacecraft technologies. The
service module is built and tested at Orbital ATK s Dulles, Virginia
manufacturing facility. It uses avionics systems from Orbital ATK s
flight-proven LEOStar and GEOStar satellite product lines, plus
propulsion and power systems from Orbital ATK s GEOStar communications
satellites. The pressurized cargo module is based on the Multi-Purpose
Logistics Module developed by Thales Alenia Space for NASA.
Orbital ATK s composite structures and solid rocket motors also
supported today s launch of the ULA Atlas V rocket. These contributions
include a 10-foot diameter composite heat shield on the launch vehicle,
manufactured using advanced fiber placement manufacturing techniques at
Orbital ATK's Iuka, Mississippi, facility. This was the 60th ULA Atlas V
launch using Orbital ATK-built composite structures.
In addition, this flight marked the 25th successful flight of the
Orbital ATK retro motors on the Atlas V, eight of which provided thrust
for separation of the spent first stage. The retro motors are built at
Orbital ATK's Elkton, Maryland facility.
Orbital ATK s upgraded Antares launch vehicle remains on schedule for a
full-power hot-fire test in early 2016 and resumption of flight
operations from the Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia in the
second quarter of the year.
About Orbital ATK
Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies.
The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation
systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and
merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related
propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense
electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition;
satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced
aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK
employs approximately 12,000 people in 18 states across the U.S. and in
several international locations. For more information, visit www.orbitalatk.com.
Source: Orbital ATK, Inc.
Sean Wilson, 832-415-1254
Public and Investor Relations