ISS Resupply Launch from VA This Week

Images credit & copyright: NASA & Orbital ATK.

LAUNCH ALERT: Monday, May 21, 2018 at 04:39 EDT (08:39 UTC & 01:39 PDT) an Orbital ATK Antares 230 rocket will be launching from Launch Pad 0A (LP-0A) at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on the South end of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), Virginia, carrying the Cygnus cargo ship (S.S. “JR” Thompson/Cygnus 10) as part of Orbital ATK-9 (OA-9) to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). This launch has a 5 minute launch window.

After rendezvous with Station on Thursday, May 24, it will be grappled via Canadarm2 and berthed to the Earth facing (nadir) side of Station’s Unity Module (Node-1) where it’s scheduled to remain for about a month before being loaded with waste and released to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere.

This will be the 8th launch of the Antares rocket, the 3rd launch of Antares in its 230 configuration, the 9th of 10 contracted launches of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft and the 6th “enhanced” Cygnus.

S.S. James Robert Thompson JR: As with every Cygnus flight it has bestowed upon it, a name to honor a prominent member in the space industry. This mission’s (OA-9 or CRS-9) Cygnus vehicle has been designated the S.S. “JR” Thompson. Thompson was the 5th Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) where he spent more than 20 years, NASA Deputy Director and after retirement stayed in the spaceflight industry, joining Orbital/ATK until his retirement in 2013.

Orbital ATK Antares 230 Rocket: Formerly known as Taurus II, the Antares Launch Vehicle is a two-stage (with optional third stage) medium-lift rocket.

Antares 230 numbering system explained:

2: Two NPO Energomash RD-181 first stage engines.

3: One Castor 30XL solid fuel second stage motor.

0: No third stage.

Height: 42.5 m (139 ft.)

Core Diameter: 3.9 m (13 ft.)

Width at Base: 3.9 m (13 ft.)

Stages: 2 (optional 3rd)

Boosters: 0

Total Engines: 3 (2 in the first stage and 1 in the second stage)

Total Liftoff Thrust (sea level): 3,844 kN (864,000 lbf)

Gross Mass: 398,000 kg (657,000 lb.)

Payload to Low Earth Orbit (LEO): 7,000 kg (15,432 lb.)

Payload to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO): 2,700 kg (5,952 lb.)

Payload to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO): 3,000 kg (6,614 lb.)

Cost: $80 million

Cygnus Spacecraft: An expendable, uncrewed, 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 lb. or 3,380 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.

Main Payload Fairing (PLF): Two-shell composite 9.9 m (32.5ft.) high and 3.9 m (12.8ft.) in diameter. The fairings are used to protect the spacecraft during ascent through atmospheric turbulence and into space. Once the rocket has reached a safe altitude the fairings jettisoned, exposing the spacecraft(s).

Third Stage (optional): There are two optional third stage variations for the Antares 230; the STAR 48-Based Third Stage (48BV) and the Bi-Propellant Third Stage (BTS).

Second Stage:

Height: 4.2 m. (13.8 ft.)

Diameter: 2.3 m (7.5 ft.)

Engine(s): Single Orbital/ATK Castor 30XL (Castor 120 heritage) with thrust vectoring capability

Engine Chambers: 1

Engine Type: Solid

Propellant Feed Method: Solid

Chamber Pressure: Solid

Fuel Type: Solid

Fuel: Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene/aluminium

Thrust (vacuum): 474 kN (106,559 lbf.)

Specific Impulse (vacuum): 348 s

Burn Time: 156 s

Restart Ability: None

Reusable?: No

First Core/Boost Stage (First Stage):

Height: 27.6 m. (90.5 ft.)

Diameter: 3.9 m (12.8 ft.)

Width at Base: 3.9 m (12.8 ft.)

Engine(s): Two NPO Energomash RD-181 engines with independent thrust vectoring

Engine Chambers: 1

Engine Type (cycle): Oxidizer-rich, staged combustion

Propellant Feed Method: Turbopump

Chamber Pressure: 25.8 MPa or 258 bar or 3,740 psi

Fuel Type: Liquid

Fuel: Rocket propellant-1 (RP-1) or highly refined kerosene. Lower specific impulse than liquid hydrogen (LH2) but is cheaper, room temperature stable, less explosive and denser. RP-1 is much more powerful than LH2 by volume and much less toxic than other room temperature fuels such as hydrazine (N2H4).

Oxidizer: Liquid Oxygen (LOX). LOX is often coupled with rocket propellant-1 (RP-1), liquid hydrogen (LH2) and methane (CH4) as it creates a high specific impulse.

Single RD-181 Thrust (sea level): 1922 kN (432,000 lbf.)

Single RD-181 Thrust to Weight Ratio: 89

Total Liftoff Thrust (sea level): 3,844 kN (864,000 lbf)

Specific Impulse (sea level/vacuum): 311.9 s/339 s

Burn Time: 215 s

Restart Ability: None

Reusable?: No


Watch Live:

Launch webcast begins: Sunday, May 20 at 04:40 EDT (08:30 UTC & 01:30 PDT).

Rendezvous & capture webcast begins: Thursday, May 24 at 03:45 EDT (07:45 UTC & 00:45 PDT).

Berthing coverage: Thursday, May 24 at 07:30 EDT (11:30 UTC & 04:30 PDT).


NASA YouTube:

OA-9 Mission Info:

NASA’s Orbital/ATK page:

NASA OA-9 Press Release:

NASA OA-9 East Coast Viewing Map:

Orbital ATK Cygnus S.S. “JR” Thompson:

Orbital ATK OA-9 Mission Page:

Orbital ATK OA-9 Fact Sheet:

Orbital ATK CRS Fact Sheet:

General 2018 Launch Schedule (Wiki):

Orbital ATK Social Media:

Orbital ATK homepage:






All NASA social Media:

Orbital ATK Antares Launch Vehicle:

Orbital ATK Antares:

Antares Fact Sheet:

Antares Mission History:

Antares Wiki:

Orbital ATK Cygnus Spacecraft:

Cygnus Fact Sheet:

Cygnus Wiki:

Wallops Flight Facility & the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS):

NASA Wallops main page:

NASA Wallops Twitter:

NASA Wallops Facebook:

Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS):

Thales Alenia Space:





NPO Erergomash:


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