Antares Launch Coverage Update
Launch Successful For April 21st 5pm est!
Orbital Sciences successfully launches its Antares two-stage vehicle from NASA’s Wallops Island facility in Virginia.
Yesterday the upper level winds were excessive and exceeded the range set for safety restrictions. But today was picture perfect for the rescheduled launch which went off without a hitch!
Orbital Sciences Corporation released the following statement after the launch:
NASA PARTNER ORBITAL SCIENCES TEST LAUNCHES ANTARES ROCKET
Sun, 21 Apr 2013 05:26:33 PM EDT
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Corporation Sunday launched its Antares rocket at 5:00 p.m. EDT from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at the agency’s Wallops
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. “Congratulations to Orbital Sciences and the NASA team that worked alongside them for the picture-perfect launch of the Antares rocket. In addition to providing further evidence that our strategic space exploration plan is moving forward, this test also inaugurates
Read the full statement @ nasa.gov/orbital.
This marks the first of what promises to be many future COTS launches. Antares is a two-stage launch vehicle designed to provide responsive, low-cost, and reliable access to space for medium-class payloads weighing up to 6120 kg. this program is currently under development to demonstrate commercial re-supply of the International Space Station under a NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract.
The launch itself appears to have been flawless. From the very beginning as countdown hit zero and the rocket left the pad, those watching on NASA TV constantly heard the Launch Controller repeat “Nominal” with each item on the Services check list.
“If you are accustomed to the rapid acceleration of Orbital’s solid-fueled launch vehicles“, the company tweeted, “following lift-off, today’s
#Antares launch will be very different, especially during the early phase of its trajectory.” they explained. “Even though it will consume close to 1ton of prop every second after lift-off, the early acceleration will be surprisingly slow.” Adding “When the engines first ignite, the rocket will not lift off from the pad for two full seconds. At 10 seconds after Stage 1 engine ignition the vehicle will have accelerated to about 40 mph and climbed to 230 feet altitude. At 20 seconds after ignition, #Antares will be traveling at 100 mph at be about 1,250 feet above the pad.”
As Antares flew into the evening spring sky, camera’s attached to the rocket looked back at the launch pad and provided some spectacular images. “Even after 60 seconds, the vehicle will still be subsonic (about 460 mph) at just over 3 miles in altitude.
#Antares achieves Mach 1 about 75 seconds after lift-off, when it will be at about 30,000 feet in altitude.” said Orbital Sciences on Twitter.
These cameras were actually serving a purpose. They captured the end of the rocket burn, the separation of stage 1 and the ignition of the stage 2 rockets. “Then things happen quickly: at Stage 1 engine shutdown, at about 4 min after lift-off,
#Antares will be traveling nearly 10K mph/70 miles alt. After another 4-plus minutes, #Antares will reach orbit at 155 miles in altitude and moving at 17,000 mph“. The company finally tweets “ #Antares MECO. Confirmed stage one separation.”
“#Antares confirms payload separation of the mock
#Cygnus payload. The vehicle will perform test avoidance to complete the A-ONE test”, says Orbital and the celebration begins in the Control room!
It’s been a great week watching and being part of NASA’s new program into space. We send our Congratulations and Well Done to everyone at Wallops, Orbital Sciences and NASA!
- You can view the launch coverage on NASA’s YouTube Channel.
- To learn more about all the ways to Connect and Collaborate with NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect.
- Follow @NASA_Wallops, @NASASocial and @OrbitalSciences for the latest official updates.
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