Orbital Sciences Rocket Launches in Test for Space Station Runs

An Orbital Sciences Corp. rocket lifted off in its first test flight as the company prepares to eventually deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

Orbital’s Antares rocket launched at 5 p.m. Washington time from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The Dulles, Virginia-based company isn’t sending an unmanned spacecraft to the station in this practice run, which involves only a simulated version of the supply ship. If the test is successful, Orbital may begin regular deliveries to the station as early as September under a $1.9 billion contract.

Orbital is following billionaire Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., which last May became the first company to deliver cargo to the station.

Orbital’s first launch attempt on April 17 was scrubbed about 12 minutes before liftoff because a data cable prematurely disconnected from the rocket. An attempt yesterday was delayed because of wind.

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