ATK’s CASTOR 30XL Upper Stage motor is deep into preparations for a static fire test, set to take place this spring at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee. The large Upper Stage was designed and built by ATK within a two year period, with six production units on order to boost the power of Orbital’s Antares launch vehicle.
Orbital’s Antares launch vehicle is preparing for its debut flight, likely to take place next month.
The push towards launch follows the successful hot fire test of an Antares first stage with its AJ-26 main engines at the Wallops launch site.
This opening flight of the vehicle, formerly known as Taurus II, will be tasked with lofting a Cygnus mass simulator payload, heavily instrumented to gather data on the launch environment aboard the vehicle.
Orbital will then move on to their final requirement under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract – a full demo mission.