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Jason DavisApril 22, 2013

Antares sails test payload into orbit

After a handful of weather delays and an Ethernet cable-induced scrub, Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket finally made it off the launch pad. The rocket's maiden voyage appeared to go off without a hitch, culminating with the successful insertion of a payload meant to simulate the Cygnus spacecraft into orbit. This paves the way for a full-fledged demo flight to the International Space Station, which Orbital says may come later this year. 

Here are a few scenes from the launch:

Antares rises from the pad

NASA / Bill Ingalls

Antares rises from the pad
Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket rises from launch pad 0A on its maiden test flight.
AJ-26 engines roar to life

NASA / Bill Ingalls

AJ-26 engines roar to life
Two liquid-fueled AJ-26 engines power the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket into orbit during its maiden flight on April 21, 2013. The AJ-26 is a refurbished Soviet-era NK-33 engine originally built for Russia's N1 launch vehicle.
Virginia is for rockets

Orbital Sciences Corporation / NASA TV

Virginia is for rockets
The Virginia coast recedes under Antares' exhaust plume during its maiden flight on April 21, 2013.
Solid in space

Orbital Sciences Corporation / NASA TV

Solid in space
The second stage, solid-fueled CASTOR 30 engine burns during Antares' final push to orbit during its inaugural flight. The Alliant Techsystems logo is visible on the side.

Read more: commercial spaceflight, rockets

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Jason Davis

Journalist and Digital Editor for The Planetary Society
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