Bill Ingalls / NASA
A new kind of commercial spaceship took to the air for the first time, with the launch of Orbital Sciences Corp's Cygnus cargo craft toward the International Space Station from a Virginia launch pad on Wednesday.
Orbital's two-stage Antares rocket lifted off at 10:58 a.m. ET from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, at NASA's seaside Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The ascent could theoretically be seen from a swath of the East Coast stretching from New York to the Carolinas, although partly cloudy skies at the launch pad reduced visibility.
The unmanned Cygnus capsule rode atop the Antares rocket into outer space, bringing about 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms) of supplies to the orbital outpost. But the main objective of this mission is to demonstrate Cygnus' capabilities, clearing the way for Orbital to start resupplying the space station in earnest under the terms of a $1.9 billion, eight-flight contract with NASA.
"This is the way of the future," Frank Culbertson, a former astronaut who now serves as Orbital's executive vice president, told reporters at a post-launch news conference. "This is how we're going to have to operate going forward in order to maintain a robust space program."
This was the second major space launch from Wallops Island this month. The first, the launch of the LADEE spacecraft mission to the Moon, was launched on the evening of Sept. 6. Although this mission experienced problems immediately after launch, those problems have been resolved, and the LADEE is expected to enter lunar orbit around Oct. 6.
More - Link >>> http://www.nbcnews.com/science/cygnus-cargo-ship-flies-first-time-heading-space-station-4B11190405
Source: NBC News.
More on the Antares rocket: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antares_%28rocket%29
More on the Cygnus spacecraft: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cygnus_spacecraft
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