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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Orbital Sciences, SpaceX Ready to Launch

•, By Jason Paur
 Today, Orbital Sciences is rolling out its Antares rocket for the first time to the launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility on Virginia’s coast. The company recently received approval to operate on the launch pad from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport that manages the launch facility. The Antares rocket builds upon Orbital Sciences family of rockets and uses surplus engines from the former Soviet Union that have been modified and converted by Aerojet. The Antares will boost the Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS.

Wallops Island is not as well known as other launch facilities such as Cape Canaveral in Florida, but the facility has been operating since 1945 and more than 16,000 rocket launches have taken place there. Most of the rockets have been much smaller, including countless research rockets designed to gather atmospheric information. The launch pads are next to the ocean, just a few dozen yards from the beach.

Orbital Sciences is a veteran of the space industry and will be using Wallops Island for its upcoming Commercial Orbital Transportation Services test flights as well as ongoing resupply missions once they have received approval from NASA. The company hopes to make its first test flight before the end of the year, and has numerous rocket launches under its belt, including small air-launched rockets as well as larger traditional rockets delivering satellites to orbit.

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