WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (WUSA/AP) -- A private company contracted by NASA to bring cargo to the International Space Station scrubbed a Wednesday test launch of an unmanned rocket, saying cables linked to the rocket's second stage apparently detached too early in blustery winds.
The Antares rocket had been scheduled to blast off Wednesday afternoon from Wallops Island on Virginia's Eastern Shore when the countdown clock was halted 12 minutes before a 5 p.m. launch window was to have opened. Barry Benesky, a spokesman for Dulles-based Orbital Sciences Corp., said it wasn't immediately clear when officials would attempt another launch.
If successful, the test flight will launch Virginia Eastern Shore into the forefront of the growing commercial space industry.
"This is a big event for the eastern shore, for Wallops, for everybody in the surrounding area, and also for the country," said Frank Culbertson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Orbital's Advanced Programs Group. "It's going to be the biggest and loudest and brightest thing that's ever launched from Wallops, I believe. It will be visible up and down the coast"
Orbital is one of two companies chosen to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. If all goes as planned, the unmanned rocket's practice payload will be vaulted into orbit after about 10 minutes, and then it will burn up in the atmosphere on its return to Earth several months later.
With the test flight, Wallops Flight Facility will make its public transition from a little-known launch pad for small research rockets to a major player in the U.S. space program.
If successful, Orbital will dock a cargo ship with the space station this summer.