Rocket engine to be tested at Wallops Island tonight
The first stage of the Antares rocket stands on the pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. (NASA)
Residents near Wallops Island will hear some noise tonight as an Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket engine is tested at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A.
The window for the test is from 6-9pm.
The test will fire the Antares’ dual AJ26 rocket engines, which will generate a combined total thrust of 680,000 lbs., for about 30 seconds while the first stage of the test rocket will be held down on the pad.
The test will demonstrate the readiness of the rocket’s first stage and launch pad fueling systems to support upcoming flights.
The test is a key milestone leading up to the first flight of the Antares rocket, which is preliminarily scheduled for about four to six weeks after the engine test.
Orbital is building and testing its new rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.
A demonstration flight of Antares and Cygnus to the space station is planned for later this year.
Following the successful completion of the COTS demonstration mission to the station, Orbital will begin regular cargo resupply flights to the orbiting laboratory through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.