An unmanned Antares rocket, developed by
Liftoff from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on
The Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule were developed in partnership with
The U.S. space agency, which retired its space shuttles in 2011, also contributed
"The Orbital investment far exceeds the
Culbertson declined to be more specific about how much the company has spent to develop Antares and Cygnus.
"We're hoping for a long series of cargo resupply missions to recoup some of that (investment)," Culbertson added.
A successful flight not only may boost its chances for additional
Cygnus capsules are not designed to return to Earth, but since they can stay in orbit for extended periods of time,
Antares, a two-stage, medium-lift rocket, made a successful debut test flight in April. For Wednesday's flight, it is expected to place a Cygnus capsule, loaded with about 700 kg of food, clothing and other supplies, into orbit.
Over the next four days, the capsule will demonstrate its ability to maneuver in space and communicate with the station.
If all goes as planned, Cygnus would fly itself to the station on Sunday so astronauts can use a robotic crane to pluck the capsule from orbit and attach it to a berthing port.
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