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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Virginia Spaceport Gears-Up for Launches to International Space Station and Moon in 2013

Depiction of the Cygnus spacecraft approaching the ISS in April 2013.
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority launch pads at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia are anticipating a busy year of orbital space launches in 2013 as the commercial firm Orbital Sciences Corporation begins its first commercial operations to the International Space Station and the first civil lunar mission from the spaceport.
 
Depiction of hot fire test.
Later this month, the Antares booster rocket will have a hot fire test of rocket engines while remaining stationary on the launch pad to test the pad and vehicle. If the hot fire test is a success, Orbital Sciences Corporation will boost the Antares rocket to space on its first test flight from Pad 0-A without the Cygnus.
 
Antares on Pad 0-A.
On 5 April 2013, Orbital Sciences is due to launch another Antares rocket from Wallops Island, this time carrying their Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration flight, attempting to rendezvous and berth with the ISS. The spacecraft may carry the first Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) from the spaceport aboard the new rocket for Wise County Public Schools to the orbiting station.
 
NASA could request a second Antares-Cygnus cargo supply mission to the International Space Station from 'space island' in 2013, if needed by the federal space agency under commercial carrier contract.
 
LADEE depicted at the Moon in 2013.
On 12 August 2013, Orbital Sciences will use the first five-stage Minotaur V rocket to boost the NASA Lunar Atmospheric Environment Explorer (LADEE) to learn more about the Moon. The Minotaur-V LADEE will liftoff from Pad 0-B. The NASA civil space mission is expected to answer several scientific questions relating to lunar dust.
 
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority executive director, and its board of directors, will also be seeking additional commercial space launch clients to make the Virginia spaceport a multi-user launch facility in 2013.   

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