ULA, Orbital ATK & NASA Team Up to Serve the ISS Tuesday

Cygnus Orbital ATK OA-6 Transport from PHSF to VIF

Image Credit & Copyright: United Launch Alliance (ULA) of OA-6 payload fairing containing the enhanced Cygnus cargo vehicle S.S. Rick Husband.

LAUNCH ALERT: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 23:05 EDT (03:05 UTC on the 19th) the United Launch Alliance (ULA), utilizing an Atlas V-401 rocket designated (AV-064) will be embarking on their second International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission by launching the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship (S.S. Rick Husband/Cygnus 6) as part of Orbital ATK-6 (OA-6 or CRS-6), from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida.

This will be the ULA’s 106th launch, the 62nd launch of the Atlas V, the 32nd launch of the Atlas V in the 401 configuration and their second ISS resupply mission.

This will also be Orbital ATK’s 5th of 10 contracted ISS resupply missions (1 failure) and the 5th time that a Cygnus spacecraft has reached Station including Orb-D1 G David Lowe.

NOTE: You may have noticed that there’s no OA-5 but instead the mission designation went from OA-5 to OA-6. The reason for that was a delay in ULA’s launch manifest which resulted in the OA-6 mission now coming before OA-5. With the first launch of Orbital ATK’s upgraded Antares 230 rocket with RD-181 engines, OA-5 and OA-7 may very well fly on Antares out of Wallops, VA with the first (OA-5) coming as soon as May, 2016.


Above Image Credit & Copyright: NASA of OA-4 S.S. Deke Slayton II Enhanced Cygnus cargo vehicle at Station.

CYGNUS SPACECRAFT = is an expendable, unmanned, pressurized cargo re-supply spacecraft that’s 6.3 m (21 ft.) in length by 3.07 m (10.1 ft.) in diameter. This iteration of Cygnus boasts a great increase in payload capacity (roughly 7,600 lbs. or 3,500 kg) due to the increased size of the ship with its stretched or “enhanced” Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) as well as lighter weight components such as the ATK Ultraflex solar arrays.

CYGNUS Fact Sheet: https://www.orbitalatk.com/space-systems/human-space-advanced-systems/commercial-resupply-services/docs/FS006_08_OA_5449%20Cygnus.pdf

After free-drift the spacecraft will rendezvous with the ISS in the early hours of March 26 where it will be grappled via the Canadarm2 and berthed to the Unity Module (aka “Node-1) where it will remain for roughly two months before being loaded with waste and released to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere.

S.S. Rick Husband: As with every Cygnus flight, it’s been given a name to honor someone in the industry. This mission’s (OA-6 or CRS-6 or Cygnus-6) Cygnus vehicle has been designated the S.S. Rick Husband.

Rick Douglas Husband (12 July, 1957 – 1 February, 2003) was a U.S. Air Force Colonel and Test Pilot before making it into the astronaut corps in 1994. He flew onboard the Space Shuttle two times. The first flight was STS-96 Discovery in May/June of 1999 which was the first time that the Space Shuttle has ever docked to Station. His second flight was the ill-fated STS-107 Columbia mission which saw the loss of the seven person crew upon reentry.

Above Image Credit & Copyright: United Launch Alliance (ULA), Pat Corkery.

The Atlas-5 (V) 400 Series Rocket is a two-stage rocket that depending on the size of the fairing used stands between 57.3 m (188 ft.) and 59.1 m (194 ft.) with a diameter of 12.5ft (3.81m) and consists of an Atlas Common Core Booster with a Russian RD-180 engine and first stage with a United States RL-10 Centaur upper stage built by AeroJet-Rocketdyne. The vehicle is available in 4 different configurations which are built specifically for each individual mission. Its launch sites are Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Launch Complex-41 (LC-41) or Vandenberg Air Force Base, Launch Complex-3 (LC-3). Performance to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) ranges from 10,470 lb. to 16,970 lb. Performance to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) ranges from 20,650 lb. to 33,360 lb.


4 = 4.2 Meter fairing (2-shell).

0 = 0 External solid rocket boosters.

1 = 1 Centaur second stage engine.

MAIN PAYLOAD FAIRING (PLF): The Main Payload Fairing for the Atlas-V-401 is a two-shell, 4 m (13.8 ft.) diameter fairing and is used to protect the spacecraft & Centaur during its ascent through atmospheric turbulence and into space. Once safely out of Earth’s atmosphere (Or at least most of it), the fairing is pyrotechnically jettisoned via a debris-free actuating system.

CENTAUR UPPER STAGE: The Centaur Upper stage is 3.1 m (10 ft.) in diameter and 12.7 m (41.6 ft.) in length. It consists of a single Cryogenic RL-10A-4-2 (RL-10) Aerojet Rocketdyne Engine that provides 22,300 lb. of thrust and utilizes liquid hydrogen (LH2) for propellant and liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer with a burn time of up to 740 seconds to include multiple engine firings. There are also four 27-N (Newton) thrusters and eight 40-N (Newton) thrusters used for attitude control. Both utilize hydrazine as propellant. The Centaur Forward Adapter (CFA) provides structural mountings for vehicle electronics within the spacecraft.

SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS (SRB’s): Have a diameter of 158 cm (62.2 in) and a length of 20 m (65.6 ft.). The total number of SRB’s utilized is dependent on the individual mission and vary from none at all to 5. They are jettisoned after approximately a minute and a half of flight.

COMMON CORE BOOSTER (CCB) (First-Stage): The American Atlas-V Common Booster Core is 32.46 m (106.5 ft.) in length by 3.8 m (12.5 ft.) in diameter and is powered by a single two-chamber Russian RD-180 engine that utilizes Rocket Propellant-1 (RP-1 or highly purified kerosene) as propellant and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) as the oxidizer. It provides 860,300 lb. of thrust at sea level and can burn for 253 seconds. The RD-180 engine is modeled after the 4-chanber RD-170 engines used by the Zenit rocket family.


Launch webcast begins at 16:30 EST (21:30 UTC).

Rendezvous and grapple webcast begins Dec 6, at 04:00 EST (09:00 UTC).

Berthing webcast begins Dec 6, at 07:00 EST (12:00 UTC).

NASA TV: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html

NASA TV Ustream: http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv

ULA Webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com/webcast.aspx


Orbital ATK OA-6 Mission Page: https://www.orbitalatk.com/news-room/feature-stories/OA6-Mission-Page/default.aspx

Orbital ATK OA-6 Fact Sheet: https://www.orbitalatk.com/news-room/feature-stories/OA6-Mission-Page/Documents/Factsheet_Cygnus_OA-6.pdf

ULA OA-6 Mission Page: http://www.ulalaunch.com/atlas-v-to-launch-oa6.aspx?title=Atlas+V+to+Launch+OA-6+Mission+for+Orbital+ATK+and+NASA&Category=1

ULA OA-6 Mission Booklet: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Mission_Booklets/AV/av_oa6_mob.pdf

Orbital ATK CRS Fact Sheet: https://www.orbitalatk.com/space-systems/human-space-advanced-systems/commercial-resupply-services/docs/FS003_08_OA_5033_CRS.pdf


ULA homepage: http://www.ulalaunch.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ulalaunch

Twitter for ULA CEO Tory Bruno: https://twitter.com/torybruno

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ulalaunch

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ulalaunch

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/UnitedLaunchAlliance


Orbital ATK homepage: https://www.orbitalatk.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OrbitalATK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OrbitalATK/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/orbital_atk/

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/orbital-atk


Atlas V rocket: http://www.ulalaunch.com/Products_AtlasV.aspx

Atlas V Users Guide: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/AtlasVUsersGuide2010.pdf

Atlas V 400 Series Cutaway: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Atlas400_Cutaway.pdf

Atlas V 500 Series Cutaway: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Atlas500_Cutaway.pdf

Lockheed Martin Atlas V: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/atlas.html


National Reconnaissance Office (NRO): http://www.nro.gov/

Patrick AFB (45th Space Wing) (Cape Canaveral): http://www.patrick.af.mil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/45thSpaceWing

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/45thSpaceWing

5th Space Launch Squadron (5th SLS):

Vandenberg AFB (30th Space Wing): http://www.vandenberg.af.mil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/30thSpaceWing

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/30thSpaceWing

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/30SWVandenberg

4th Space Launch Squadron (4th SLS):

Air Force Space Command: http://www.afspc.af.mil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AFSpace

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AirForceSpaceCommand

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC339eVx3dEGpH6tFRZt-oDg

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/airforcespacecommand/

Peterson AFB (21st Space Wing): http://www.peterson.af.mil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PeteAFB


Aerojet-Rocketdyne Homepage: http://www.rocket.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AerojetRdyne

Facebook: http://facebook.com/AerojetRdyne

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