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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Antares Rocket Cost Estimated at $472-Million

Artist rendering of the Antares rocket on Wallops Island, VA launch pad 0A
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents have revealed that the total development costs for Orbital Sciences Corporation's two-stage Antares rocket have increased to $472 million, $184 million more than what NASA is paying them, reports FlightGlobal.

That the company has been willing to commit these extra funds to develop Antares suggests to space journalist Robert Zimmerman that Orbital Sciences Corporation see a commercial value for the rocket that will exceed these costs. Or to put it more bluntly, space launch firm executives see a market for their rocket that will pay for their investment, and then some, Zimmerman notes.

In April 2012, David Thompson, CEO of Orbital Sciences, stated the initial launch of Antares is expected to occur in August 2012 and the Orbital COTS Demonstration mission no sooner then October or November 2012. The flights will carry the Cyngus spacecraft to orbit and on to the International Space Station.

The new launch pad, operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, is expected to be approach $150-million as completed this month. A launch from Wallops Island, Virginia would reach the International Space Station's orbit as effectively as from Cape Canaveral, Florida with less civil, commercial and military launch traffic to delay a commercial launch.

The commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport now has two functional launch pads. The liquid fuel booster Antares will utilize launch pad 0A for commercial missions while the solid rocket boosters Minotaur I and Minotaur V will continue to utilize launch pad 0B for military and civil space missions in the spaceport's manifest now projected into 2015.

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