Early morning risers in the Mid Atlantic were treated with a rare spectacle in the sky today: the sight of a rocket launching from a NASA spaceport delivering supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket carrying its Cygnus cargo spacecraft left Pad 0A on NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at 4:44am today. The Antares medium-class rocket matched its record for the heaviest cargo load carried to date with approximately 7,400 pounds of important supplies and scientific equipment aboard Cygnus .
“Watching an Antares launch cargo to the International Space Station is always impressive,” said Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group. “The team works very hard to ensure each NASA commercial resupply mission is successful.”
Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 5:20am. on Thursday, May 24. The spacecraft will remain attached to the space station for approximately seven weeks before departing with up to 7,100 pounds (approximately 3,200 kilograms) of disposal cargo. Cygnus’s large-volume disposal capability is unique among America’s commercial cargo providers and a critical service for NASA.
The next rocket to be launched at NASA Wallops in Virginia will be a Sounding Rocket on June 21. With a 2-hour window that opens at 6am, the Suborbital RockOn mission with its education payloadswill launch up in the morning sky. However, because that rocket is significantly smaller than the one that launched today, the launch won’t be visible far from the Virginia spaceport.