Dulles-based Orbital Sciences is readying for a test this month of its Antares rocket launcher, a critical step as the company prepares to complete its first resupply mission to the International Space Station.
Orbital’s much-anticipated blastoff will take place at the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority facility on Wallops Island, less than a month after Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX, completed its second cargo flight to the space station.
The Antares launch — which will be visible from some spots locally — will be a key step for Orbital.
“Over the next 18 to 24 months, this program ... is, I think, the most important for [Orbital],” said William Loomis, managing director at the financial services firm Stifel Nicolaus. “It’s one of the biggest contracts they have, period.”
Both Orbital and SpaceX have deals with NASA to resupply the space station, as the agency looks to private space firms to supplement its capabilities.