New privately-owned Antares rocket blasts off from Virginia, to space


"A privately owned rocket built in partnership with NASA to haul cargo to the International Space Station blasted off on Sunday for a debut test flight from a new commercial spaceport in Virginia. The 13-story Antares rocket, developed and flown by Orbital Sciences Corp, lifted off at 5 p.m. EDT from a Virginia-owned and operated launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island."

Here's the Orbital Sciences press release.


  1. The important thing to note here is that THE ENGINES USED ON THIS ROCKET ARE FIFTY (50) YEARS OLD. Not the design, the physical objects bolted to the rocket in the picture above. They were developed as part of the Soviet N1 moon rocket program (basically the Russian version of the Saturn V), but the program was cancelled when it became obvious that we would land before the ruskies would. The engines, complete but never flown in space, not even a true test flight, were mothballed somewhere in siberia (Really) for 40 years, found, and after changing hands several times, sold to AeroJet for ~$4-6 million each, then refurbished (with modern electronics) and strapped to a tube full of highly flammable fuel. Boom. 1960s era soviet moon rocket shoots off from American space port in 2013.

    Wrap your brain around that.

    Also, informally the “mass simulator” that was the payload is also known as “your mom”.

    1. Reminds Neil Degrasse Tyson rant about Saturn V… Thing sits in a museum and we do not have anything better than that. And we cannot even manufacture the damn thing any more.

    2. I just had a nerdgasm (from wikipedia):

      When the N-1 program was shut down, all work on the project was ordered destroyed. A bureaucrat instead took the engines, worth millions of dollars each, and stored them in a warehouse. Word of the engines eventually spread to America. Nearly thirty years after they were built, disbelieving rocket engineers were led to the warehouse. Later, one of the engines was taken to America, and the precise specification of the engine was demonstrated on a test stand.

    3. The N1 project actually kept going, officially, until ’76, but it had been on hold for a couple of years by then. Technically it outlived Apollo and the Saturn V, probably because no one wanted to officially recognize the total failure and wasted investment; keeping it on life support meant that there was some faint possibility of squeezing value out of it.

      The project was doomed from the beginning. It spent two years as low-priority navel gazing with no mission. When it was put forward as a contender for the Moon missions, the plan called for the same LOX/Kerosene fuel that Saturn used, but no compatible engine existed and the top designer refused to create one… So it was redesigned to use small LOX/Kerosene engines — that hadn’t been created yet — by a different designer. It spent another 3-4 years in lower-priority development.

      Korolev’s “Beat Apollo” plan didn’t get approved until ’66, so crash development of the production N1’s was already over half a decade behind the USA. Then Korolev died. 

      It’s nice to see something good came of all that work, regardless of how long it took.

Comments are closed.