Orbital ATK has space-tested an improved version of its Antares rocket. It is about time this spacecraft became worthy of space travel.
Orbital ATK is a sidekick of NASA in the field of trade and commerce. It engaged in the first test of its novel improved rocket. This was a day ago. The main engines on this rocket are termed Antares. They underwent ignition for a total of 30 seconds while the rocket was stabilized on a launch pad in the state of Virginia. Called a hot fire test, it apparently went smooth as silk.
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What this signifies is that the Antares rocket is ready for its first spaceflight to the ISS. It will be taking a shipload of cargo to the ISS. The deadline for this is sometime in the upcoming month of July.
Orbital ATK revamped and renovated the Antares rocket over the last 500 days or so. This was after an erstwhile version exploded thus dashing all the hopes of Orbital ATK to the ground. That was way back in 2014. The issue leading to the explosion was found to exist in the AJ26 engines. These are Soviet products that belong to a bygone era.
The engines had been manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne. It is a matter of controversy whether it was the faulty structure of the engines that caused the crash or some flotsam and jetsam had entered the hardware.
Whatever the case Orbital ATK substituted RD-181 engines in place of the AJ26 engines. The function of the hot fire test was to gauge whether the novel engines were fully integrated with the other parts of the rocket.
The propulsion system, core stage and launch structure all worked in sync to produce take-off for a test run. Over a fortnight from now onwards, the engineers will be looking into the rocket’s nuts and bolts to ensure that everything goes as per plan.
An Antares rocket in full working order will allow Orbital ATK to launch cargo into orbit around with earth with ease and proper protocol. Both Orbital ATK and NASA plan on supplying and re-supplying the ISS using their own spacecraft.
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After the 2014 accident, Orbital cancelled further tests and went back to the drawing board for a re-thinking of went went wrong. A Cygnus capsule will be mounted in a piggyback manner on an Antares rocket and sent to the ISS in the future. The world will be watching when this occurs in July of this year.