Antares AJ-26
Antares AJ-26. Credit: Orbital ATK

Orbital Sciences Corp. will launch the second of eight space station resupply missions it owes NASA no earlier than July 10, the Dulles, Virginia-based company announced June 23.

The mission, dubbed Orb-2,had been scheduled for May but was put on hold after an AJ-26 rocket engine slated for a subsequent Orbital cargo flight failed on the test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The company, along with its main propulsion contractor, Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California, are still investigating what went wrong with the failed engine. 

At the same time, the companies are inspecting the pair of AJ-26s that had been integrated with the rocket scheduled to make Orbital’s second paid cargo run. 

“The Antares team will inspect the AJ-26 engines installed on the Orb-2 rocket this week, and a decision to proceed toward launch will be based on the results of the inspections,” the company wrote on its website June 23. A previous update had targeted the launch for as soon as July 1.

Orbital said the mission’s Cygnus spacecraft has been fueled and loaded with all the cargo on its manifest, except items scheduled for last-minute stowage ahead of the launch.

Orbital launches its cargo delivery-and-disposal missions from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, under a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract that was signed in 2008 and runs through 2015.

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Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...