Orbital Sciences Corp. is scheduled to launch a spacecraft intended to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station in a NASA demonstration flight project worth an estimated $2.5 million, Reuters reported Monday.
Irene Klotz writes the company’s two-stage Antares rocket, due to takeoff on Wednesday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia includes the Cygnus capsule, which will deliver food and other supplies to the ISS.
The program is expected to take about a month and will determine whether NASA will award Orbital Sciences a $1.9 million resupply contract in which Cygnus could take its first official flight to the ISS in December, Klotz reports.
“We think Cygnus has the capability to do a lot more than just deliver cargo to the station,” former astronaut Frank Culbertson, Orbital Sciences executive vice president, was quoted to have said in the article.
According to the write-up, Orbital Sciences built Cygnus with the goal of resupplying the ISS since NASA space shuttles designated for the task retired two years ago.
It notes, however, the company now looks to other business opportunities as new space exploration initiatives are launched in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Reuters says Orbital Sciences, which started working with NASA more than a year ago, would join Space Exploration Technologies as supplier to the on-orbit research facility if the demonstration flight is successful.
The report notes both companies had received from NASA technical support and seed funds worth $684 million to develop equipment and facilities needed to send cargo to the ISS under contracts worth $3.5 billion combined.