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Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Antares rocket launches on its maiden flight from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on April 21, 2013.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Rise of the Antares... After two launch scrubs last week (April 17's delay due to an umbilical cord prematurely disconnecting from the rocket just moments before lift-off, and yesterday's postponement caused by bad weather), Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket flawlessly rose from its seaside pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 2:00 PM, Pacific Daylight Time today. Considering how smooth the ascent to orbit was this afternoon, Antares should be on-track to begin ferrying Orbital Sciences' Cygnus freighter to the International Space Station (ISS) as early as this June. Assuming that goes without a hitch, NASA's bid to outsource ISS cargo flights to private space companies other than SpaceX will become ever more fruitful...with Boeing's CST-100 and Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser two of the last commercially-made craft (primarily designed to carry astronauts, that is) to come online.

The Antares rocket is about to launch on its maiden flight from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on April 21, 2013.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

The Antares rocket launches on its maiden flight from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on April 21, 2013.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

The Antares rocket heads for space after launching on its maiden flight from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on April 21, 2013.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

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