Orbital Corp. launches rocket to space station after solar scare; food, ants stashed away

Orbital Sciences Corp. launched its unmanned Antares cargo rocket to the International Space Station Wednesday, following a delay after a massive explosion on the sun led to fears of radiation.

The rocket was lofted into a brilliant blue sky from Wallops Island, Va., at 1:07 p.m. Thursday. On board is a capsule full of supplies for the International Space Station, as well as some ants for an educational project.

The rocket launch was predicted to be visible along the East Coast from South Carolina to Massachusetts. A tweet from the Wright Brothers memorial in North Carolina revealed that the launch was clearly visible there.

The delivery was supposed to be last month, but space station repairs took priority. This week's frigid temperatures forced a delay. Then a strong solar storm interfered -- and the first major solar flare of 2014 erupted from a massive sunspot seven times the size of Earth after a series of mid-level sun storms in recent days.

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"We are concerned about mission failure," Orbital's chief technical officer Antonio Elias told reporters in a teleconference.

The company analyzed the solar radiation and, late Wednesday, deemed it acceptable.

NASA is paying Orbital Sciences and the SpaceX company to restock the space station.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.