Orbital Sciences aborts launch of Antares rocket

Orbital Sciences, one of two private US firms chosen by NASA to shuttle cargo to the International Space Station, aborted the first test flight of its Antares rocket Wednesday.

"They've had to scrub for the day," a NASA TV announcer said during a livefeed. "They had a premature dislocation of one of the umbilicals on the second stage."

The decision to abort came about 12 minutes before the 5 pm (2100 GMT) scheduled launch from the Wallops flight facility on an island off the coast of the state of Virginia, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) from Washington.

The two-stage launch vehicle, 131 feet (40 meters) tall and 12.8 feet in diameter, was set to hit an orbit of 155 miles some ten minutes after take-off.

It was not immediately clear when a new attempt would be made, but NASA TV announcers said it would likely be at least 24 to 48 hours.

A $1.9 billion contract requires Orbital Sciences to deliver freight to the ISS over the course of eight flights by the beginning of 2016.

© 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Apr 17, 2013