Orbital ATK Rocket Launches NASA Cargo to Space Station in Spectacular Morning Liftoff

The blurb spaceflight association Orbital ATK successfully launched an Antares rocket now (Nov. 12), providing a Sunday morning philharmonic for early birds along a U.S. easterly coast.

Topped with a International Space Station-bound Cygnus load spacecraft, a 139-foot (42.5-meter) Antares rocket carried off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia during 7:19 a.m. EST (1219 GMT). About 9 mins later, Cygnus was deployed in low-Earth orbit, where it will spend a subsequent dual days chasing after a International Space Station (ISS).

Antares was creatively scheduled to blast off on Saturday (Nov. 11), though it was aborted during a final minute when a small, personal aeroplane illegally entered a limited airspace nearby a launch site. Today, Orbital ATK pushed behind a launch time by 5 minutes, from an initial 7:14 a.m. EST (1114 GMT), to safeguard a span of boats were outward a limited area. [More Stunning Launch Photos of Orbital ATK’s Antares OA-8 Flight]

An Orbital ATK Antares rocket launches a Cygnus load boat carrying NASA load toward a International Space Station from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia on Nov. 12, 2017.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

During a initial launch try Saturday, a throng of 3,500 spectators braved a freezing-cold hours before morning to watch a liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center. A identical throng distance was approaching for today’s launch. Onlookers could be listened entertaining in a NASA promote as a Antares rocket dismissed a engines for liftoff and soared into space.

Packed with reserve and scholarship experiments for a Expedition 53 astronauts, Cygnus is approaching to arrive during a ISS early Tuesday morning (Nov. 14). European Space Agency wanderer Paolo Nespoli will use a Canadarm2 robotic arm to fastener a incoming load craft, that is about as large as a load van. Orbital ATK dedicated this goal to a late NASA wanderer Gene Cernan, a final chairman to travel on a moon. This Cygnus booster was named the S.S. Gene Cernan in his honor. [Astronaut Gene Cernan Remembered: Photos of a Last Man on a Moon]

An Orbital ATK Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus load boat firm for a International Space Station launches from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia on Nov. 12, 2017. The Cygnus is delivering some-more than 3 tons of reserve for a space station's crew.
Credit: NASA TV

Cygnus will broach about 7,400 lbs. (3,500 kilograms) of food, water, wardrobe and scholarship apparatus to a 6 crewmembers now aboard a ISS. About 1,900 lbs. (862 kg), or one-quarter of that load will be used for systematic examine and record demonstrations, including a cubesat filled with E. coli that will examine antibiotic resistance, a new laser-based communication system, and experiments that will examine how plants and insects grow in microgravity.

Also aboard a Cygnus load boat are some caring packages from a astronauts’ family members, Orbital ATK officials pronounced in a prelaunch briefing. The organisation will also accept a special “cool box” filled with uninformed fruits and vegetables — a singular provide for a crew, deliberation they mostly eat prepackaged and freeze-dried packets of special space food and occasional batches of lettuce grown in space.

Once a ISS organisation totally empty Cygnus, they’ll fill it adult with disposable load and send it off to bake adult in Earth’s atmosphere on Dec. 4. That same day, SpaceX skeleton to launch another load resupply goal to a ISS on a Falcon 9 rocket.

Today’s load launch was a a eighth load smoothness launch for NASA by Orbital ATK underneath an initial $1.9 billion agreement between a association and spaceflight company. NASA has given combined 3 some-more missions to that resupply agreement, and sealed a new agreement with Orbital ATK for destiny flights as partial of a agency’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 program. NASA has also tapped SpaceX (which already flies load missions to a space station) and Sierra Nevada Space Systems for smoothness services underneath a CRS-2 program.

Sunday’s launch was also the second moody for Orbital ATK’s revamped Antares 230 rocket pattern following a launch disaster in 2014 that finished in an blast only seconds after lifting off from a same launch site, Pad-0A, here during NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

The initial launch of a new and softened Antares 230 rocket was a OA-5 load resupply goal on Oct. 17, 2016. Orbital ATK has also used United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets to launch 3 load missions to a ISS given a blast in 2014.

Email Hanneke Weitering during hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original essay on Space.com.

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