RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Virginia will take its place in American space history in September, as Orbital Sciences plans to launch its Antares rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore.
In a statement released July 11, Orbital says they “will launch its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard the Antares rocket between Sept. 14-19 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. It will spend several days heading toward the International Space Station where it will perform a series of checkout maneuvers, ensuring it can safely enter the keep-out zone of the orbiting complex. After those tests have been passed, Cygnus will proceed for an attempted rendezvous with the space station and will be captured by the crew on board. The rendezvous is targeted for Sept. 22.”
The Antares rocket will launch from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility. It is so big that it should be visible to many in the Mid-Atlantic.
Orbital Sciences is one of NASA’s two partners (the other being SpaceX) participating in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA says initiatives like the COTS “are helping to develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program also is working with commercial space partners to develop capabilities to launch U.S. astronauts from American soil in the next few years.”
Once the September launch and dock are successful, Orbital is scheduled to run eight subsequent cargo resupply flights from Wallops to the ISS. Orbital has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA.
For more information on the Orbital flight to the space station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbital