Orbital Sciences Remains on Track for COTS Deadline Despite Antares Delays
[Satellite TODAY 02-23-12] Orbital Sciences beat analysts’ 2011 fourth quarter earnings consensus backed by impressive orders and year-over-year backlog growth, the company announced as part of its Feb. 22 fiscal results.
Despite the growth, Orbital experienced unexpected weakness in its launch segment due to budgetary headwinds with customers and delays in the launch of the Antares spacecraft. The company lowered next year’s guidance by 2 percent, anticipating a slow start for the segment in 2012.
The debut flight for Antares, formally known as Taurus 2, was pushed back four months to late June or early July due to issues with the rocket’s launch pad in Virginia. Orbital, however, remains on track to meet NASA’s late summer COTS demo mission deadline and to launch the first operational flight to the International Space Station by the end of the year. Orbital management confirmed the rocket’s development is 98 percent complete.
The company had good news to report concerning its total backlog, which increased 16 percent to $5.3 billion in 2011 compared to the previous year. Orbital is pursuing new orders worth $3.5 billion in the next 12 months.