Successful Liftoff For Antares Rocket Headed For ISS - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Successful Liftoff For Antares Rocket Headed For ISS

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WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. - NASA and Orbital are now celebrating the triumphant launch of the Antares Orbital-1 Rocket.

There were a number of setbacks prior to this launch with problems at the International Space Station and space weather conditions, but it's now on its way to re-supply the ISS.

"We're all smiles here -- a lot of happy engineers across the area," Wallops Flight Facility Director Bill Wrobel said.

"It was really cool seeing it come right up, basically right over us," spectator Shawn Ullrich said.  

The rocket is as tall as a 13 story building and weighs over 620,000 lbs -- that's equivalent to 240 compact cars.

"This is the first launch I've seen. I'm feeling pretty pumped inside," Ben Tillinghast of Williamsburg, Va. said.

Just over ten minutes after the launch, Cygnus, the spacecraft that's carrying nearly 2,800 lbs of supplies, separated itself from the rocket and entered orbit on a two-day trek to the ISS. It's the first of eight resupply missions -- a $1.9 billion project to deliver vital science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and other hardware over a three year span.

"The station, if not actually, will virtually be our stepping stone to the rest of our solar system. And we are very proud to be a part of that," former NASA astronaut and Wallops Flight Facility Executive Vice President Frank Culbertson said.

The Cygnus spacecraft is expected to arrive at the International Space Station Sunday, January 12 around 6 a.m. After it attaches to the station, crews will wait a day to open the hatch and transfer all the supplies.      

The Obama Administration has extended funding for International Space Station operations for at least another ten years. That means the science lab will remain in orbit until 2024 -- big news for private launch companies with contracts to supply cargo to the ISS.

For more information about the mission ahead of Sunday's rendezvous with the International Space Station click here.

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