|Cygnus with CST-100 docked|
Friday, June 29, 2012
Orbital's Cygnus capsule may test space brakes
The commercial Cygnus capsule, a commercial cargo spacecraft to be launched by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, may test re-entry "space brakes" to give NASA more down mass capability during the commercial cargo program being launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island.
"Space brakes" are being tested soon at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility using a sounding rocket to loft an experiment to space. The IRVE-3 project is gaining engineering traction for a new inflatable re-entry system development with launch this summer.
If the test proves successful, Orbital Sciences Corporation and NASA Langley Research Center may cooperate on a mission to utilize the Cygnus spacecraft for a recoverable re-entry test. The Cygnus spacecraft successful use of "space brakes" would open a new capability for the space agency and the private sector beyond the successful Dragon re-entry.
Orbital has reviewed a variant of the Cygnus pressured cargo module capable of carrying three or four astronauts, along with a human-rated version of the Antares. The anticipated development costs could be as much as $2-billion.
Stay turned to the NASA Wallops Flight Facility sounding rocket test of "space brakes" next month.