Rocket is launched from Virginia as test for mission to international space station

Steve Helber/AP - Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket lifts off from the NASA facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. on April 21. The rocket will eventually deliver supplies to the international space station.

There’s no need to drive to Florida if you want to see a rocket launch. Wallops Island, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, was the place to be Sunday to watch the Antares rocket shoot into orbit as a test run for missions to restock the international space station.

Dulles’s Orbital Sciences is one of two companies working with NASA to take food, clothing and replacement parts to the space station. NASA used space shuttles for the supply trips until the shuttle program ended in 2011.

The space agency turned to private companies for the job, saying it would focus on manned flights to asteroids and to Mars.

Sunday’s launch at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport drew lots of onlookers to the NASA visitor center several miles away, where people set up blankets and camp chairs to view the launch. The beach on Assateague Island was also a popular viewing spot.

Mike Horocofsky drove from his home in Rock Hall, Maryland, to see Antares lift off. “I’d rather be doing this than anything else,” he said. “It’s just something I’ve enjoyed since I was a boy.”

 
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