Washington: On Sunday, NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launched its Antares rocket from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at the agency`s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The test flight was the first launch from the pad at Wallops and was the first flight of Antares, which delivered the equivalent mass of a spacecraft, a so-called mass simulated payload, into Earth`s orbit.
"Today`s 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.
The test of the Antares launch system began with the rocket`s rollout and placement on the launch pad April 6, and culminated with the separation of the mass simulator payload from the rocket.
The completed flight paves the way for a demonstration mission by Orbital to resupply the space station later this year. Antares will launch experiments and supplies to the orbiting laboratory carried aboard the company`s new Cygnus cargo spacecraft through NASA`s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
"Today`s successful test flight of Orbital Sciences` Antares rocket from the spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, demonstrates an additional private space-launch capability for the United States and lays the groundwork for the first Antares cargo mission to the International Space Station later this year," said John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.