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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

New Private Rocket Launches Into Orbit On Maiden Voyage

• Tariq Malik via

A new commercial U.S. rocket soared into the Virginia sky Sunday  (April 21) on a debut flight that paves the way for eventual cargo flights to the International Space Station for NASA.

The third try was the charm for the private Antares rocket, which launched into space from a new pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, its twin engines roaring to life at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) to carry a mock cargo ship out over the Atlantic Ocean and into orbit. The successful liftoff came after two delays caused by a minor mechanical glitch and bad weather.

Built by the Dulles, Va.- based spaceflight company Orbital Sciences, the Antares rocket is a two-stage booster designed to launch tons of supplies to the International Space Station aboard a new unmanned cargo ship called Cygnus. Orbital has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to provide at least eight resupply flights to the station using Antares and Cygnus. [See photos of Antares rocket's 1st launch]

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