The first launch from the new launch complex in Wallops Island Virginia is a success. After several weather delays the mission launched at 5:00pm eastern today April 21, 2013. The picture perfect first demonstration flight was view-able from much if the Eastern United States.
The payload for this rocket was a dummy payload which will orbit for approximately two weeks before harmlessly re-entering the atmosphere. The new launch site is providing capabilities which will be used for payload delivery to the Space Station and other missions. These missions will include a moon launch which be supported from this complex, placing a satellite around the moon later this summer.
Orbital has had some recent failures with the loss of NASA’s Glory mission and issues with the Pegasus rocket. This success should help rebuild the confidence in their launch platforms. The Antares rocket will be capable of delivering 2600kg to the Internationale space station or low Earth orbit. This capability along with SpaceX rockets and their dragon capsule will once again allow the United States to be independent in the delivery of payloads to orbit, and no longer reliant on Russia for this capability.