Orbital Sciences Corporation

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PegasusRocket Cartoon.jpg

Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC or Orbital for short) was founded in 1982 by David Thompson, Bruce Ferguson, and Scott Webster. Headquartered just north of Dulles International Airport in Virginia, OSC builds and operates a number of rockets to launch small government and commercial satellites. Pegasus, which has little wings designed by Burt Rutan and launches from the underside of a large airplane, is definitely the coolest one. It was the world's first privately developed space launch vehicle.

OSC has an interesting relationship with the "military-industrial complex." On the one hand, it has a major missile-defense division; on the other hand, two of its rocket designs, the Minotaur IV and V, represent peaceful uses for decommissioned nuclear missiles.

OSC's work for NASA includes a major cargo-delivery contract for the International Space Station under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, and development of a small-rocket-based launch-abort system for emergencies that may occur early in a manned mission using the Orion capsule.

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