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April 17, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan
Orbital Sciences Corp.'s launch of its new Antares rocket has been put on hold due to a technical issue that popped up when countdown was about 12 minutes away. The 13-story rocket was expected to blast off from NASA's little-known Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia at 2 p.m. Pacific time in its maiden flight to space in a test mission for NASA. But Orbital said it had to abort the launch when an umbilical line to the second stage prematurely fell off while the rocket was on the launch pad. "The teams are still gathering data," the company tweeted . "Most probable next attempt will be Friday, April 19 at 1700 EDT. We will provide confirmation soon.
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.
April 16, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
On a little-known launch pad off the coast of Virginia, a team of about 200 engineers and technicians is readying a 13-story rocket for its maiden flight to space in a test mission for NASA. The Antares rocket, developed by Orbital Sciences Corp., is going through final preparations for a 2 p.m. Pacific time blastoff planned for Wednesday. The eyes of the U.S. government will be on the launch to see whether the two-engine booster has the right stuff. NASA has invested about $288 million in seed money to help the Dulles, Va., company develop its technology, and has an additional $1.9 billion on the table with a contract for eight flights to transport cargo to the International Space Station in the coming years.
March 25, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan
Boeing Co. said it plans a nearly two-hour test flight of a 787 Dreamliner to test its proposed fix for the lithium-ion battery systems that led to the commercial jet's grounding in January. The flight on Monday is the latest attempt by the aerospace giant to win approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and get the 787 fleet airborne again. During the test, the 787 - a production airplane built for LOT Polish Airlines - was scheduled to take off at 11 a.m. Pacific time and land at Paine Field in Everett, Wash.
February 7, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
Though a month of investigating the grounded Boeing Co. Dreamliner 787 passenger jet and its fire-prone batteries has turned up clues, federal officials reported that the cause of the problem remains a mystery. Meanwhile, airlines have made other arrangements for passengers for the foreseeable future as its 787s are grounded and the battery issue is investigated. Speaking to reporters Thursday from Washington, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said investigators found a short-circuit in a lithium-ion battery on one aircraft and even traced it to a specific cell, but they didn't yet determine the root cause.
February 7, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan
After three weeks of being grounded due to safety concerns, the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed Boeing Co. to begin limited flight test activities with its 787 Dreamliner passenger jet. The principal purpose of the upcoming test flights will be to collect data about the plane's lithium-ion battery and electrical systems while the aircraft is airborne, the FAA said . The 787 has been grounded since Jan. 16 by the FAA because of...
February 4, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan
Aerospace giant Boeing Co. has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to let it begin test flights on its grounded 787 Dreamliner passenger jet. The new plane has been grounded since Jan. 16 by the FAA because of numerous incidents and high-profile fires involving the onboard lithium-ion batteries. Investigators around the world are looking into the matter. The company disclosed its request for in-flight testing Monday in an email. “Boeing has submitted an application to conduct test flights, and it is currently under evaluation by the FAA,” said Marc Birtel, a company spokesman, who would not comment further.
January 7, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan
A Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner passenger jet was found to be on fire after arriving at Boston's Logan International Airport from Tokyo. The fire was discovered at 10:30 EST by a mechanic who saw smoke in the cabin once all passengers from the Japan Air Lines Co. flight were unloaded at the gate 15 minutes earlier, said airport spokesman Richard Walsh. Firefighters used infrared equipment to determine the source of the smoke and found a strong heat signature in the underbelly of the aircraft, Walsh said.
December 24, 2012 | By W.J. Hennigan
Outside of a science fiction movie, it's a little strange to see a rocket fire up its engines, blast off, and then hover in the air. But that's exactly what Hawthorne rocket maker SpaceX pulled off with its 10-story Grasshopper test vehicle. In a 29-second flight, the rocket burst into the sky, rose 131 feet, hovered and landed safely on the pad using thrust vector and throttle control.  To cushion its fall back to the launchpad, the Grasshopper has steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.
November 29, 2012 | By W.J. Hennigan
For the first time, the U.S. Navy has catapulted the bat-winged X-47B drone into flight. The test conducted Thursday wasn't at sea, but rather at a shore-based catapult facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. It marks the first of several shore-based catapult-to-flight tests that will be performed before the sleek drone, called the X-47B, is launched from a ship. The X-47B, built by Northrop Grumman Corp., is designed to perform one of aviation's most difficult maneuvers: land on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
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