Orbital Sciences Launches Cargo Capsule for Space Station

Orbital Sciences Corp. launched an unmanned capsule on its maiden voyage to the international space station, hoping to become the second commercial entity to transport cargo to the orbiting laboratory.

The 40-meter Antares rocket, which blasted off without a hitch Wednesday morning from Wallops Island off the Virginia coast, carried the company’s Cygnus cargo vehicle, filled with about 680 kilograms of food and other supplies. The mission is intended to demonstrate the capsule’s ability to communicate, maneuver and safely link up with the station.

If all goes well, Cygnus will arrive Sunday, remain docked for a month and then fire its rockets to break away from the space station and burn up as the capsule falls through the atmosphere.

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