Source: Washington Post, Spaceflightnow
Orbital Sciences Corporation is expected to attempt another hotfire test of the Antares rocket first stage this evening. The test, which will not be broadcast live, should run for 29 seconds, and will come after a full fuel loading and countdown, will allow the company to verify the interaction with ground systems at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, (MARS) pad OA, and evaluate the new booster’s twin engine configuration. Both of the Aerojet AJ-26 engines, which are refurbished and modernized versions of the Russian NK-33 powerplants, have already undergone acceptance testing at NASA’S Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Pending a successful outcome, OSC will be able to officially schedule the maiden flight of the Antares, possibly to occur within 4 to 6 weeks.
Meanwhile, further down the east coast and in much warmer conditions, SpaceX will conduct its own count down and hotfire test of the Falcon 9 booster on Monday afternoon, setting the stage for NASA’s CRS-2 flight to the International Space Station on Friday, March 1st.