UpClose with Antares Inside Northrop Grumman Rocket Assembly Factory at NASA Wallops Launching Nov. 15: Space UpClose Gallery

Two Northrop Grumman Antares commercial rockets
being processed for launch side by side inside
the Horizontal
Integration Facility (HIF)
at NASA’s Wallops Flight
Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  Antares
NG-10 rocket
assembly at left is slated for
launch Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A
at NASA Wallops bound
for the International Space Station.
 
Antares NG-11 booster at right is
scheduled for launch in
spring 2019. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Ken Kremer SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM –11 November 2018


NASA
WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, VA –  Everything
remains on track for this week’s
launch of Northrop Grumman’s next private Antares rocket hauling the company’s next unpiloted commercial Cygnus
cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS) from NASA’s Wallops Flight
Facility along Virginia’s Eastern Shore – on a sure to be spectacular overnight blastoff
Thursday Nov. 15. 



Space UpClose recently
took an exclusive UpClose tour of the next two Antares rockets being processed side
by side inside the Northrop Grumman rocket assembly factory at Wallops known as
the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF). 



Enjoy our exclusive Space
UpClose photo gallery of the double dose of Antares rockets slated for commercial
cargo launches to the ISS on the NG-10 mission on Nov. 15, 2018 and on the
NG-11 mission in Spring 2019.

Two new Russian-built NPO Energomash RD-181 engines
at the base of Northrop Grumman Antares rocket first stage that will power the
NG-11 cargo resupply mission to the ISS scheduled in spring 2019 undergo
processing inside
the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  They are fueled by LOX and
RP-1 kerosene.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

We also toured the
Cygnus NG-10 cargo resupply ship up close
inside the H-100 cleanroom High Bay processing
facility at NASA’s Wallops, that will deliver over 3.7 tons of precious science
and supplies to the orbiting outpost.



Antares liftoff is scheduled
for 4:49 a.m. EST on Thursday Nov. 15, 2018, roughly 2 hours before sunrise and
should make for an absolutely stunning sight along the Eastern seaboard – home to
America’s most densely populated region. 



We observed all the
main components of both the NG-10 and NG-11 booster assemblies – including both
the first and second stages of Antares as well as the RD-181 engines, interstages
and payload fairings.



“We are on target to launch Antares and Cygnus on Nov. 15
at this time,” Kurt Eberly, Antares program manager Northrop Grumman VP, told
Space UpClose in an interview during the Antares and Cygnus tours at NASA
Wallops in late October.



Two new Russian-built NPO Energomash RD-181 engines
at the base of Northrop Grumman Antares rocket first stage that will power NG-10
cargo resupply mission to the ISS on Nov. 15, 2018 undergo processing inside
the
Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF)
at NASA’s Wallops Flight
Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. 
They
are fueled by LOX and RP-1 kerosene.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

NASA and
Northrop Grumman had to do some “re-planning” of the optimum “cargo content” of
the Cygnus NG-10 ISS resupply mission – in the wake of the Soyuz MS-10 crew
launch failure emergency last month from Kazakhstan on Oct.  11, explained former Astronaut and 4 time
space flyer Rick Mastracchio, currently
senior director of Commercial Resupply Services for
Northrop Grumman. 



Northrop Grumman Antares NG-10 commercial rocket
being processed inside
Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  Launch slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from pad
0A
at NASA Wallops bound for the ISS.  Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

What is
the Antares & Cygnus rocket processing sequence leading up to launch?



“The Antares
NG-10 booster is being processed in the HIF,” Eberly explained as we toured the
facility. 



“Antares is in position now and has completed its
integrated systems testing. The stages are mated and its ready for Cygnus to be
mated. The payload fairing is ready to go.”



The HIF is a huge rocket processing facility leased from
NASA located about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Pad OA launch pad. 



“We are just doing some final systems testing.”


14 story tall commercial expendable Antares launch vehicle will
be launching in the upgraded and more powerful re-engined 230 configuration rocket
compared to the original version. 



The two stage Antares measures 139 feet (42.5 m)
tall and 13 feet (3.9 m) in diameter. 



It has a payload capacity of 18,000 pounds (8,000 kg) to
low Earth orbit (LEO). 



The core tank was designed and produced by KB Yuzhnoye and
Yuzhmash in Ukraine, and shipped to Wallops, explained Eberly. 



“The first stage is derived from the Zenit rocket family.” 


It was originally designed as liquid fueled booster for the
Soviet Union’s Energia rocket.

Two new Russian-built NPO Energomash RD-181 engines
at the base of Northrop Grumman Antares rocket first stage that will power the NG-11 cargo
resupply mission to the ISS scheduled in spring 2019 undergo processing inside
the
Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF)
at NASA’s Wallops Flight
Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. 
They
are fueled by LOX and RP-1 kerosene.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

“The first stage is powered by two Russian newly built NPO
Energomash RD-181 engines with independent thrust vectoring. They are fueled by
LOX and RP-1 kerosene. 



“They are test fired by Energomash in Russia and shipped to
Wallops.”



They produce about 860,000 pounds of thrust, roughly 100,000
more thrust than the original Antares 100 configuration. They are throttled
down at Max Q to maintain core integrity. 



The original Antares was powered by two AJ-26 (NK-33)
refurbished engines whose use was discontinued following the catastrophic launch
explosion of the 3rd ISS cargo flight Orb-3 for NASA on 28 October
2014 and witnessed by this author. 

Antares Castor 30XL solid fueled second stage mounted atop/inside
Northrop Grumman first stage core for Cygnus NG-10 cargo ship launch to the ISS
on Nov. 15, 2018 backdropped by payload fairing at right. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

“The second stage is a Castor 30XL solid fueled rocket motor.” 


The Castor 30XL’s were originally built by ATK and acquired
by the company then known as Orbital Sciences that then merged into Orbital ATK.
It burns for about 156 seconds with approximately 107,000 pounds of thrust.

Antares Castor 30XL solid fueled second stage built by Northrop
Grumman, for use on Cygnus NG-11 cargo launch to the ISS in Spring 2019, will
be integrated with first stage at left and payload fairing at right. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

The flight proven avionics stage controller was built by
Northrop Grumman from MACH avionics components. 

Up Close rear view of Antares Castor 30XL solid fueled second
stage built by Northrop Grumman for use on Cygnus NG-11 cargo launch to the ISS
in Spring 2019, will be integrated with first stage at left and payload fairing
at right. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Overall Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor/integrator
and responsible for integration, systems development, testing software and
verification of the combined engines, core stage and avionics components to
ensure they function properly and as designed for a successful launch campaign,
Eberly elaborated.

Two Northrop Grumman Antares commercial rockets
being processed for launch side by side inside
the Horizontal
Integration Facility (HIF)
at NASA’s Wallops Flight
Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  Antares
NG-10 rocket
assembly at left is slated for
launch Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A
at NASA Wallops bound
for the International Space Station.
 
Antares NG-11 booster at right is
scheduled for launch in
spring 2019. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

“On Nov. 1 Cygnus is transported to the Wallops fueling
station in a special dedicated container. After that it moves to the HIF for mating
to Antares.”  



“Then its removed from the container and rotated
horizontally and placed on the separation system inside the HIF.”



“Cygnus is then mated to front of Antares.”


The processing team will also load the final cargo items
into Cygnus after arriving inside the HIF. 



“Then the rest of the final cargo load and late load items
will be added after it arrives in the HIF around Nov. 1. 



We load the last cargo about three days before launch”.


Cygnus will be mated to the booster. Finally the payload fairing
will be added [to encapsulate Cygnus].”



“The payload firing is built by Northrop Grumman with a
honeycomb core, composite face.”



The fairing measures 13 feet (3.9 m) in diameter and has a height
of 32 feet (9.9 m). 

Cygnus NG-10 spaceship
will be encapsulated inside the payload fairing (nose cone) in the Horizontal Integration Facility after completing cargo
load and then integrated with
Northrop
Grumman
 Antares rocket. Blastoff slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from
pad 0A
at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the ISS. 
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

We observed two different types of payload fairings on the
factory floor.





For NG-10, the fairing interior already had mylar sheeting
installed by technicians composed of a laminated aluminum polyimide substrate.  

Up Close Look inside the mylar coated payload fairing that
will encapsulate the Cygnus NG-10 cargo resupply ship in the Horizontal Integration Facility and be
bolted on top of
Northrop Grumman Antares rocket. Blastoff
slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A
at NASA’s Wallops
Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the ISS.
  Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

The NG-11 fairing has been significantly modified and
upgraded to allow late load of critical cargo items such as biological samples on
the launch pad using a mobile cleanroom, Eberly explained. 




The modified fairing will launch for the first time in
Spring 2019.
“For example this will enable the launch of live rodents to
the ISS on Antares for the first time.”   

Payload fairings for next two Cygnus’s – NG-10 foreground,
NG-11 background – resting horizontal for processing inside Horizontal Integration Facility. Cygnus
NG-10 resupply ship will be encapsulated and mated with
Northrop
Grumman
 Antares rocket. Blastoff
slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility
in Virginia bound for ISS.
 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Plans call for Antares to roll to the pad sometime on Tuesday,
Nov. 13, two days prior to the schedule Nov. 15 liftoff.

“After mating the Antares/Cygnus rocket is placed on the
TEL [Transporter-Erector-Launcher] transporter and transported about 1 mile to
the launch pad OA – about 2 days before launch.”

“Then Antares will go vertical and we will run a combined
systems test – that tests out the interface between the rocket, the launch pad
and the range.”

“We turn on all of our range and radiation systems to make
sure it’s all looking good”.

What happens on launch day?

“We go on console about 6 hours before launch and start the
countdown.  Then we start fueling about 4
½ hours before launch by filling the tanks with RP-1 and liquid oxygen simultaneously.”

“Right before launch at T Minutes 3 we begin the auto
sequencer, pressurize the vehicle, and ignite the engines and do a quick health
check.

“Then we are off and running!”

How does this launch of the NG-10 compare to the prior mission
in May?

“Overall this launch [of NG-10] will be very similar to the
last one OA-9 [when the aerospace company was still independently operating as
Orbital ATK] in May of this year 2018,” said Eberly

“OA-9 was very successful,” said Eberly.

“So we are looking to have another good launch on Nov. 15
at 4:49 am, the beginning of a 5 minute launch window.

It takes 9 minutes to get to orbit and Cygnus will separate
in flight. Antares is a quick 2 stage flight.

“We are looking forward to launching on Nov 15.”

The Cygnus NG-10 cargo freighter, built by Northrop Grumman
Corporation, was christened the S.S. John Young – in memory of John Young who
was NASA’s longest serving astronaut and passed away earlier this year in
January at age 87.
Former NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio announces Northrop Grumman built Cygnus NG-10
cargo spacecraft being prepped inside clean room High Bay facility at NASA Wallops
is named in honor NASA astronaut and Apollo 16 moonwalker John Young on Oct.
24, 2018.  Blastoff on Antares rocket is
slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A
at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the
International Space Station.
  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com
The S.S. John Young cargo resupply freighter is jam packed and will
deliver nearly 4 tons of research experiments and station hardware and crew
supplies to the trio of astronauts and cosmonauts living aboard the orbiting
science outpost after blastoff atop the 2 stage Antares 230 version rocket.
NG-10 counts as Northrop Grumman’s 10th station
resupply cargo mission for NASA. 
Among the research items on board will be the first integrated 3D printer and
recycler
and f
abricator to aid NASA’s Deep Space exploration
efforts. 
“It will turn waste plastic materials aboard the
station into high-quality 3D-printer filament to create tools and materials, a
key capability for future long-duration space missions beyond low-Earth orbit,”
according to NASA.
Cygnus will be loaded with cargo up to 3,450 kg (7,605 lb.)
comprising science experiments, research gear,
food, water, spare parts, crew supplies and vehicle hardware
to support the Expedition 57 and 58 crews.
The Northrop Grumman built
Cygnus NG-10 cargo spacecraft is prepped inside clean room High Bay facility at
NASA Wallops and named in honor NASA astronaut and Apollo 16 moonwalker John
Young on Oct. 24, 2018.  Blastoff on
Antares rocket is slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A
at NASA’s Wallops Flight
Facility in Virginia bound for the International Space Station.
 
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Cygnus will deliver
vital equipment, supplies and scientific equipment to the space station as part
of Northrop Grumman’s Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1) contract with NASA
– totaling 11 cargo flights.



“NG-10 is the next to
last followed by NG-11 next spring under the CRS-1 contract, said Eberly. 



“Northrop Grumman also
has been awarded the follow-on CRS-2 contract from NASA comprising at least 6
more cargo missions.”



To date, Cygnus
spacecraft have delivered more than 23,000 kilograms of cargo to the
International Space Station, and removed 17,000 kilograms of disposable
cargo. 


The
prior Cygnus cargo freighter was successfully launched by an Antares 230
vehicle from Wallops on May 21, 2018 on the Orbital ATK OA-9 resupply mission
for NASA before the company merged with Northrop Grumman. 

Watch for Ken’s
continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin,
Orbital ATK and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center,
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility,
Virginia.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science
and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research
scientist and journalist based in the KSC area.

………….

Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
Northrop Grumman VP Antares program manager Kurt Eberly stands with Antares NG-11 booster assembly inside
Horizonal Integration Facility at NASA Wallops.  
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Former NASA astronaut
Rick Mastracchio and Ken
Kremer/Space UpClose give 2 thumbs up inside NASA Wallops cleanroom for
Northrop
Grumman built Cygnus NG-10 cargo spacecraft named in honor of honor NASA
astronaut and Apollo 16 moonwalker John Young on Oct. 24, 2018. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.