Launch Week for Antares

Launch Week! Credit NASA / SC

Launch Week!
Credit NASA / SC

It is a very rare occasion to see the first flight of a new launch vehicle, but if all goes well Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares Launch Vehicle will blast off from the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport at  NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at 5:00 PM (Eastern)  on Wednesday, April 17th.  The launch window extends to 8:00 PM each day through the 21st.  The launch will be covered on NASA TV, with coverage beginning at 4:00 PM, one hour prior to liftoff.

Launch week got off to a bit of a rough start on Saturday, when according to a press release from OSC, a pyro valve in the propellant chill down failed at T-16 minutes during a wet dress rehearsal.  OSC planned to replace the valve within 24 hours, keeping the first launch attempt on schedule for Wednesday.  This flight,  which is being conducted under NASA’s COTS program,  will carry a mass simulator to stand in for the Cygnus Advanced Maneuvering Spacecraft which will be carried on a second flight scheduled for later this year. Following the two test flights, OSC is schdeuled to begin delivering 8  cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station on the separate CRS contract starting early next year.

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