Powered by engines originally developed for Russia's moon program, Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket notched an apparently flawless maiden flight on Sunday after launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The 600,000-pound rocket soared into the sky at 5 pm, burning liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel as it climbed toward orbit, where it released a simulated cargo vessel. The flight paves the way for Antares supply missions to the International Space Station, expected to begin in June or July.
This 8,300-pound instrumented mockup of the Cygnus cargo ship was launched about 10 minutes after liftoff at an altitude of 158 miles. Its successful launch into orbit triggered applause in the mission control room.