Orbital Sciences Corp. and ATK completed their merger Feb. 9, forming a $4.5 billion aerospace and defense company employing 12,500 people across 17 states.
Orbital Sciences Corp. expects to take delivery of the first pair of its newly purchased Russian rocket engines in June or July, with a second pair arriving before the end of the year, under a contract whose value Orbital said has been overstated in the Russian press.
Although SpaceX has made four cargo deliveries to the international space station under contract to NASA and is poised to make its fifth next month, the TESS contract marks only the second time NASA has tapped SpaceX to launch a science satellite.
Orbital has contracted with Russia’s Energomash to provide RD-181 engines to power the first stage of Orbital’s Antares rocket, replacing the AJ-26 engine that Orbital suspects was the origin of Antares’ Oct. 28 failure.
Orbital Sciences will buy at least one Atlas 5 rocket from United Launch Alliance to resume cargo deliveries to the international space station for NASA in the fourth quarter of 2015 while it works to return its Antares rocket to flight after an October failure.
Hispasat selects Space Systems/Loral to build the Amazonas 5 in a move that cancels the planned Amazonas 4B satellite that Orbital was expected to build.
Orbital will get most of its planned revenue from NASA for its Oct. 28 launch despite the rocket’s failure because the milestone that triggered payment was the rocket’s ignition and liftoff.
Companies attending a recent workshop offered a number of technical concepts for reducing the amount of orbital debris, but acknowledged that they lack business plans for carrying out those efforts.
Orbital Sciences will launch a small NASA heliophysics mission aboard the venerable Pegasus XL air-launched rocket in 2017 under a $56.3 million contract award.
ATK Chief Executive Mark W. DeYoung said there are no near-term liquid-propulsion alternatives to Russian engines for U.S. rockets.
ATK on Nov. 17 said its special due-diligence assessment of Orbital Sciences following the Oct. 28 failure of Orbital’s Antares rocket has concluded that the merger of ATK’s Aerospace and Defense group with Orbital remained a good idea.