(Florida Today) -- A new U.S. cargo spacecraft is en route to the International Space
Station after a successful launch this morning from Virginia -- the
second of two East Coast launches today.
Sciences Corp.'s unmanned Cygnus freighter blasted off atop an Antares
rocket at 10:58 a.m. and was deployed in orbit for the first time about
10 minutes later to start its demonstration mission.
It was the second successful launch in as many tries by the Antares from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.
spacecraft then completed its first critical task, deploying two
power-generating solar array wings within a half-hour after launch.
Cygnus will take four days to chase down the ISS and its three-person
crew, which watched the launch on laptop comuputers and later
congratulated the launch teams.
The Cygnus, packed with 1,300
pounds of low-value demonstration cargo, will perform 10 tests of
spacecraft systems before earning a final "go" to approach the station
for capture by a robotic arm, planned early Sunday.
A post-launch news conference is planned around 12:30 p.m.
launch came nearly seven hours after a United Launch Alliance Atlas V
rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral and placed an Air Force
communications satellite in orbit.