Antares Successfully Launched on Third Try

Antares Successfully Launched on Third Try

The third time WAS the charm for Orbital Sciences Corporation.   The test launch of its Antares rocket lifted off on schedule at 5:00 pm ET today from Wallops Island, VA.  A post-launch press conference is scheduled for 6:30 pm ET.

Two previous attempts were scrubbed — one for technical reasons, the other for weather — but all went well today as Antares inaugurated use of the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA.

An engineering model of Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft and several small satellites — called Phonesats — that hitched a ride on this launch were successfully deployed.

Presidential Science Adviser John Holdren applauded the launch.

Orbital plans the next test launch at the end of June or early July.  An actual Cygnus spacecraft will be aboard that launch and will test the rest of the sequence of rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station (ISS).   Antares and Cygnus are part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to develop commercial space transportation systems to take cargo to the ISS.

SpaceX is Orbital’s competitor in the COTS program, although NASA already has signed contracts with both companies for operational “Commercial Resupply Services” (CRS) missions to the ISS — 12 for SpaceX and eight for Orbital.

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