Mass to LEO -
Antares: 5,000 kg
Falcon 9 v1.0 (retired): 10,450 kg
Falcon 9 v1.1 (with engine out): 13,150 kg
Falcon 9 v1.1 (w/o engine out): 16,000 kg
Falcon Heavy: 53,000 kg
Cygnus and Dragon are also very different; Cygnus has a greater pressurized volume than Dragon, but a smaller hatch and total mass to orbit. Cygnus also has no unpressurized cargo space, so hauling big bits for outside the ISS is out. Dragon can return to Earth while Cygnus is disposable, burning up in the atmosphere.
Antares rocket positioned on launch pad for test flight
Rolling out on a crisp morning on Virginia's Eastern Shore, the first Orbital Sciences Antares rocket left its hangar Saturday and was positioned on a seaside launch pad for liftoff on a test flight set for April 17.
The Antares rocket rolls up the ramp to the launch pad at Wallops Island, Va. Credit: NASA
The white two-stage rocket, emblazoned with an American flag on its nose, left its integration hangar before dawn riding horizontally on a specially-designed transporter. After pausing at the base of the launch pad, a hydraulic erector lifted the 133-foot Antares booster vertical at about 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).
Now positioned on launch pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, the Antares rocket is set to undergo final testing and countdown exercises ahead of a test launch scheduled for April 17 at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), the opening of a three-hour window.
"With the completion of the Antares rollout today, we are on a clear path to a launch date of April 17, provided there are no significant weather disruptions or major vehicle check-out delays between now and then," said Michael Pinkston, Orbital's Antares program manager, in a company statement.
The launch pad is owned by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and lies on the property of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.
Delayed more than a year by setbacks in the launch pad's propellant handling system, the Antares test launch comes near the end of a five-year public-private partnership to develop Orbital's cargo transport system.
The mission's payload is an instrumented simulator mimicking the mass characteristics of Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft, a commercial vehicle designed to haul supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.
The demonstration launch is the first of two test flights planned under an agreement between Orbital Sciences and NASA. If this month's launch goes well, Orbital hopes to launch another Antares rocket with a functional Cygnus spacecraft this summer on a cargo delivery demo flight to the space station.
The test flights are the culmination of the agreement, in which NASA is paying Orbital up to $288 million to design, build and test the Antares booster and Cygnus freighter. Once NASA is satisfied the vehicles are safe, perhaps as soon as this fall, Orbital will begin a series of eight operational resupply flights under a $1.9 billion contract.
The Antares rocket is lifted vertical atop the launch pad Saturday. Credit: NASA
Orbital's Antares and Cygnus system joins SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft providing U.S. resupply services to the space station. NASA turned to the commercial providers to ferry cargo to the outpost after the retirement of the space shuttle.
SpaceX completed its required demo flight to the space station in May 2012, and the California-based company has accomplished the first two of a dozen operational missions since then.
Rollout to pad