One article readers here might be interested in comes from DJ of OrbitalHub with an interesting article about Orbital (one of the two companies that won a contract from NASA to transport supplies to the International Space Station).
(OrbitalHub) Orbital relies on proven experience in launch vehicle technology. Taurus II is designed to provide low-cost and reliable access to space, and it uses systems from other members of Orbital's family of successful launchers: Pegasus, Taurus, and Minotaur.While Orbital may not be as familiar (or popular) as SpaceX, its good to see NASA choose another competent player from the private space sector.
Taurus II is a two-stage launch vehicle that can use an additional third stage for achieving higher orbits. The payloads handled by Taurus II can have a mass of up to 5,400 kg.
Orbital is responsible for overall development and integration of the first stage. The two AJ26-62, designed and produced by Aerojet and Orbital, are powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene. The core design is driven by NPO Yuzhnoye, the designer of the Zenit launchers.
With the looming recession affecting the entire planet, hopefully NASA will be able to outsource most of its production to the private sector, as it may not only be cheaper but it would free up NASA to use its funds towards other promising (scientific) missions.
Be sure to read the rest of the entries from the Carnival of Space, and if you have any desire to join this space parade feel free to visit Universe Today for details on how to enter.
(Image Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
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