An Orbital ATK Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus cargo ship sure for the International Space Station launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia on Nov. 12, 2017. The Cygnus is delivering greater than three tons of provides for the area station’s crew.
Credit: NASA TV
The industrial spaceflight firm Orbital ATK efficiently launched an Antares rocket in the present day (Nov. 12), offering a Sunday morning spectacle for early birds alongside the U.S. east coast.
Topped with the International Space Station-bound Cygnus cargo spacecraft, the 139-foot (42.5-meter) Antares rocket lifted off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia at 7:19 a.m. EST (1219 GMT). About 9 minutes later, Cygnus was deployed in low-Earth orbit, the place it’ll spend the following two days chasing after the International Space Station (ISS).
Antares was initially scheduled to blast off on Saturday (Nov. 11), nevertheless it was aborted on the final minute when a small, private airplane illegally entered the restricted airspace close to the launch website. Today, Orbital ATK pushed again the launch time by 5 minutes, from an preliminary 7:14 a.m. EST (1114 GMT), to make sure a pair of boats have been outdoors the restricted space.
During the primary launch try Saturday, a crowd of three,500 spectators braved the freezing-cold hours earlier than dawn to observe the liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center. The same crowd measurement was anticipated for in the present day’s launch. Onlookers might be heard cheering in a NASA broadcast because the Antares rocket fired its engines for liftoff and soared into area.
Packed with provides and science experiments for the Expedition 53 astronauts, Cygnus is anticipated to reach on the ISS early Tuesday morning (Nov. 14). European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the incoming cargo craft, which is about as huge as a cargo van. Orbital ATK devoted this mission to the late NASA astronaut Gene Cernan, the final individual to stroll on the moon. This Cygnus spacecraft was named the S.S. Gene Cernan in his honor. [Gallery: Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Spaceship & Antares Rocket]
Cygnus will ship about 7,400 lbs. (three,500 kilograms) of meals, water, clothes and science gear to the six crewmembers at present aboard the ISS. About 1,900 lbs. (862 kg), or one-quarter of that cargo might be used for scientific badysis and know-how demonstrations, together with a cubesat full of E. coli that can research antibiotic resistance, a brand new laser-based communication system, and experiments that can examine how vegetation and bugs develop in microgravity.
Also aboard the Cygnus cargo ship are some care packages from the astronauts’ members of the family, Orbital ATK officers stated in a prelaunch briefing. The crew will even obtain a particular “cool box” full of contemporary vegetables and fruit — a uncommon deal with for the crew, contemplating they principally eat prepackaged and freeze-dried packets of particular area meals and occasional batches of lettuce grown in area.
Once the ISS crew fully unpack Cygnus, they will fill it up with disposable cargo and ship it off to expend in Earth’s ambiance on Dec. four. That similar day, SpaceX plans to launch one other cargo resupply mission to the ISS on its Falcon 9 rocket.
Today’s cargo launch was the the eighth cargo supply launch for NASA by Orbital ATK beneath an preliminary $1.9 billion settlement between the corporate and spaceflight firm. NASA has since added three extra flights to that resupply settlement. It was additionally the second flight for Orbital ATK’s revamped Antares 230 rocket configuration following a launch failure in 2014 that led to an explosion simply seconds after lifting off from the identical launch website, Pad-0A, right here at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
The first launch of the brand new and improved Antares 230 rocket was the OA-5 cargo resupply mission on Oct. 17, 2016. Orbital ATK has additionally used United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets to launch three cargo missions to the ISS because the explosion in 2014.