Orbital Sciences launch vehicle features AASC composite structures

Composites specialist Applied Aerospace Structures Corp. manufactured several composite structures for Orbital Sciences' Antares Launch Vehicle and Cygnus Service Module, which delivered supplies to the International Space Station.

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Applied Aerospace Structures Corporation (AASC, Stockton, Calif., USA) reports that it recently supported Orbital Sciences Corp. (Dulles, Va., USA) with the manufacture of the composite structures for the Antares Launch Vehicle and the manufacture of the Cygnus Service Module (SM) structure.

Antares is a two-stage launch vehicle with the ability to launch spacecraft weighing up to 14,000 lb/6,450 kg into low-Earth orbit, as well as lighter weight payloads into higher energy orbits. The Antares structures are fabricated at AASC’s Stockton facility and delivered to Orbital’s Chandler facility for finalization and proof loading. These structures consist of the payload fairing, fairing adapter, motor adapter, payload adapter, interstage and avionics cylinder. AASC has delivered five complete ship sets to date.

The Cygnus spacecraft consists of a common Service Module (SM) and a Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM). The Cygnus Service Module structure is fabricated, installed and proof load tested at AASC’s Stockton facility and delivered to Orbital’s Dulles facility for integration.

Following a successful debut flight in April, the Antares Launch Vehicle was successfully launched on Sept. 18 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia, carrying its first cargo ship, the Cygnus Spacecraft, destined to carry supplies on a four-day Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight to the International Space Station.

The Cygnus was fueled and packed with 1,500 lb/680 kg of cargo and docked with the space station on Sept. 22. It remained attached for 30 days before departing with up to 1,750 lb/794 kg of disposal cargo.

Applied Aerospace Structures Corporation (AASC) is a full service provider of complex composite and metal bonded structures and assemblies for military and commercial applications.