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Antares rocket to blast off into space Wednesday: Watch it live

April 17, 2013|By Deborah Netburn


Free live streaming by Ustream

Skip your afternoon coffee break Wednesday and watch a live rocket launch instead. 

On Wednesday afternoon, NASA will stream the first test flight of the 13-story Antares rocket, and you can watch it live right here.

The launch is scheduled for 2 p.m. PDT, but NASA's coverage will begin at 1 p.m. PDT.

Antares is currently standing at attention at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, a little-known launchpad off the coast of Virginia, ready for a trip that will take it 160 miles above the Earth, carrying an 8,300-pound dummy cargo capsule.

If the launch is successful, the rocket's developer, Orbital Sciences Corp., could eventually be tapped to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

Full story: Orbital Sciences prepares rocket for closely watched NASA mission

Orbital Sciences Corp., based in Dulles, Va., has had successful missions with its last four new rockets — the Pegasus, Taurus, Minotour I and Minotaur IV — but when it comes to rockets, nothing is a sure thing, and no one can say for sure that this launch will go off without a hitch.

As of Tuesday evening, NASA said there was just a 45% chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch. The main problem is cloud cover.

Even if the weather does hold up, there could still be problems. And as my colleauge W.J. Hennigan reports in a story about the rocket's launch, "Even the best rocket systems often require several attempts before they achieve success."

You can find an overview of the ascent profile here.

If the test run is a success, Orbital plans to run a full flight demonstration of the rocket and the capsule that will take cargo to the ISS in a few months.

If the weather doesn't hold up, NASA said there are backup launch opportunities April 18-21. And if the rocket doesn't hold up, then Orbital officials said they will learn from their mistakes and try, try again.

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