The next supply mission to the International Space Station is scheduled for May 20. Orbital ATK will provide the launch vehicle for this mission. The vehicle will take off from Wallops Island, a state-owned spaceport on the eastern shore of Virginia.
Orbital ATK will embark on the mission via their Antares 230 rocket. The trip would be the third flight which took off from the Wallops Island since a rocket exploded in 2014. The explosion caused a 15 million damage to the launch pads at the port.
The last launch from Wallop for a resupply mission was on November 11. The launch vehicle carried payloads and materials for scientific experiments.
Orbital ATK and SpaceX have a contract with NASA. The agreement expects the two space firms to embark on supply missions to the International Space Station until 2020.
Orbital ATK is expected to embark on two more resupply missions before the current contract ends. The company also has another supply mission contract that extends to 2024. These missions are scheduled for this year ending and then next year.
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority operates the Virginia spaceport. The government has invested over $100 million in building two launch pads. One is for launching solid-fuel rockets while the other is for launching liquid-fuel rockets.
The government has also invested $5.8 million in developing a runway that would be used for testing drones. The facility will launch in May; many commercial organizations are already expressing interest in the facility.
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is planning other developments in the area.
After Orbital ATK ends its first supply contract, it will begin the new supply contract which was signed in 2016. The agreement expects Orbital ATK to go on at least six resupply missions to the International Space Station.
In an exciting turn of events, the cost of the supply missions increased dramatically. According to a report from NASA, the company will pay about $400 million more for even fewer supplies. In the current contract, Orbital ATK charged more than SpaceX.
However, in the new contract which will start in 2020, SpaceX charged more they charged previously whiles Orbital ATK reduced their charges by 15%.
In the new contract, the provider firms have increased to three. The latest addition is the Sierra Nevada Corporation. Sierra Nevada joined with its Atlas V launch vehicle. Orbital ATK would use the Antares 230 launch vehicle while Space X would use Falcon 9.