US launches unmanned Antares rocket to International Space Station
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Orbital Sciences launched the first flight of its unmanned Antares rocket on Wednesday to the International Space Station (ISS), as Nasa forges ahead with its plan to privatise US space missions.
The Cygnus capsule, hitched to Orbital Science's Antares rocket, blasted off at 10.58 am (10.58pm Singapore time) from Nasa's Wallops Flight Facility off Virginia's eastern coast, for a Sunday rendezvous with the ISS.
The first stage functioned a little more than four minutes before separating, after which the second-stage motors functioned for about two minutes and a half. Cygnus then separated to reach Earth's orbit, marking the success of the launch.
The payload separation was successful, a Nasa commentator said on the US space agency's live television feed. Cheers could be heard at mission control.