Orbital Sciences buys Atlas 5 launch

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Orbital Sciences has contracted with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for its next resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Orbital Sciences buys Atlas 5 launch from ULA

Orbital Sciences has contracted with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for its next resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

ULA will use an Atlas 5 rocket for the launch in the fourth quarter of 2015 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Orbital Sciences has an option for a second Atlas 5 launch in 2016.

Orbital Sciences has scheduled three additional resupply missions in 2016 using an upgraded Antares rocket. The company plans to consolidate the five remaining resupply missions into four missions using a combination of Atlas 5 and upgraded Antares rockets.

Orbital Sciences has plans in place to accelerate installation of a new propulsion system to replace the Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-26 engines. The company says vehicle integration and testing should begin in mid-2015.

Once upgraded, the new propulsion system will increase cargo payload capacity by 20 percent on the Antares launches and 35 percent on the Atlas 5 launches. The increased payload capacity will increase the amount of supplies, experiments and SmallSats that can be included on future missions.

Orbital Sciences reports that the assessment, cleanup and reconstruction work on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Wallops Island facility is expected to be substantially complete by the fall of 2015. The company expects the facility will be recertified for launches by the end of 2015.

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