After the successful launch of a payload test rocket, NASA and a private partner eye an upcoming visit to the International Space Station.
Update #2 — April 22, 2013; 9:45 AM
On Sunday, NASA and its commercial space partner Orbital Science launched the Antares rocket from NASA’s Flight Facility in Wallops Island, VA. The test rocket sent the mass equivalent of a spacecraft, known as a mass simulated payload, into Earth’s orbit.
“[The] successful test marks another significant milestone in NASA’s plan to rely on American companies to launch supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station, bringing this important work back to the United States where it belongs,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “In addition to providing further evidence that our strategic space exploration plan is moving forward, this test also inaugurates America’s newest spaceport capable of launching to the Space Station, opening up additional opportunities for commercial and government users.”
Orbital Science is working under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, meant to forge partnership between the space agency and commercial developers. The public-private partnership between the space agency and Orbital Science comprises a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Contract (CRS) that will resupply the International Space Station over eight flights. Sunday’s successful Antares launch precedes an Orbital Science mission to the Space Station later this year.
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Update #1 — April 17, 2013; 4:58 PM
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Original — April 17, 2013
A privately-built rocket will launch today at 5:00 PM from NASA’s Flight Facility in Wallops Island, VA. The Antares, built by Orbital Sciences, is the largest private rocket to launch from the Eastern Shore. The rocket should be visible from Richmond.
Orbital Sciences is testing its rocket under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, which will develop the US commercial space transportation industry.
Live coverage of the launch will begin at 4:00 PM.
photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Photo and Video