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Antares Prepares for First Launch
In preparation for the maiden flight of Orbital Sciences’ Antares launch vehicle, the vehicle was successfully rolled out on April 6 to the launch paid, Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch has been scheduled for April 17. On this mission, Antares will carry a passive payload of similar mass to the Cygnus spacecraft. On later flights, Antares will launch Cygnus to carry cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Orbital Sciences team is now integrating the Antares maiden launch vehicle with launch pad systems. A Mission Dress Rehearsal is planned for April 11. A Wet Dress Rehearsal, in which the vehicle is loaded with fuel and a full count-down is conducted, is planned for April 12. The Launch Readiness Review is scheduled for April 15.

In parallel with maiden flight activities, Orbital Sciences is preparing for the second flight of Antares. That mission will be the first launch of Cygnus. It will demonstrate the ability of Cygnus to rendezvous and berth with ISS and then destructively reenter Earth’s atmosphere. In preparation for that mission, Cygnus spacecraft testing at Wallops continues. Spacecraft fueling is planned for the week of April 15. This schedule supports a planned launch in the June timeframe.