The competition heats up: The Antares hot fire test of the rocket’s first stage was successfully completed tonight.
The 29-second hot fire test took place at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on February 22, 2013 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0A, which was designed and built over the last several years to accommodate liquid-fuel space launch vehicles. The primary goals of the test were to ensure that the launch complex’s fueling systems and the Antares stage one test article functioned properly in a fully operational environment, that engine ignition and shut down commands operated as designed, and that the dual AJ26 first stage engines and their control systems performed to specifications in the twin-engine configuration. The test included a full propellant loading sequence, launch countdown and engine ignition operation. The pad’s high-volume water deluge system flowed throughout the entire period of the test to protect the pad from damage and for noise suppression.
The first stage will now be prepped for a full scale test launch of Antares, expected in about six weeks. If that is successful, Orbital Sciences will then follow with a flight of the Cygnus capsule to ISS.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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