Company contracted by NASA to deliver supplies to International Space Station launches tests rocket

Unmanned Antares rocket blasted off Sunday

ATLANTIC, Va. - A company contracted by NASA to deliver supplies to International Space Station launched a test rocket Sunday.

The unmanned Antares rocket blasted off from Wallops Island on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

The launch by Dulles-based Orbital Sciences Corp. was designed to test whether a practice payload could reach orbit and safely separate from the rocket. If it's successful, Orbital plans a test run to the space station this summer and hopes to make the first of eight deliveries with its Cygnus cargo ship in the fall.

Orbital, near Washinton, D.C., is one of two companies contracted to supply the space station by NASA, which ended its shuttle program in 2011. California-based SpaceX completed its third supply run to the station last month.