Orbital ATK successfully launched their Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the coast of Virginia this morning, putting their Cygnus cargo spacecraft on track to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday. The launch occurred at the end of the possible launch window of the day at 7:19am.
The rocket was originally scheduled to lift-off on Saturday morning. The Saturday launch was scrubbed when a wayward aircraft entered the restricted airspace near the pad.
The Antares rocket delivered Cygnus to its orbit roughly 9 minutes after leaving the pad in Virginia. Early on Tuesday, ISS Expedition 53 astronauts Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Randy Bresnik of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to grapple Cygnus. Cygnus will remain at the space station until December 4, when the spacecraft will depart the station and deploy several CubeSats before its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere as it disposes of more than 5,000 pounds of trash astronauts will put on it after unloading cargo its bringing to the station.
The resupply mission will support dozens of new and existing investigations as Expeditions 53 and 54 contribute to about 250 science and research studies. Highlights from the new experiments will include studies on antibiotic resistance, high-speed data transmission, plant growth and improved power and communication technologies.
For more than 17 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,100 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.