Sunday, April 21, 2013

Antares has successful launch

Antares takes off Sunday. NASA photo
The 133-foot tall Antares rocket built by Orbital Sciences launched from the Virginia coast Sunday, setting the stage for space station cargo delivery missions starting later this year. The rocket launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport adjacent to NASA's Wallops Island Flight Center. Three minutes and 50 seconds after liftoff, the two first-stage Aerojet AJ26 engines shut down as planned and the first stage fell away. A solid-fuel second stage ATK Castor-30B motor ignited to continue the push to space. Orbital hopes to have a demonstration flight in June or July using a Cygnus cargo capsule that will carry about a ton of equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. SpaceX was the first commercial company to successfully resupply the ISS. The addition of Antares bodes well for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services established in 2006 with the retirement of the space shuttle. (Source: CBSNews, NASA, 04/21/13) Gulf Coast note: AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.