The launch will be held at 11:05 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Launching beneath the light of a almost full moon, the unmanned Atlas V rocket provided late-night sparkle as it headed north with its precious cargo and paralleled the East Coast on its way to orbit.
Orbital ATK names its Cygnus spacecraft after prominent individuals in the space industry who have passed away. The crew has been preparing for the arrival of an Orbital ATK cargo ship, which is scheduled to blast off from Florida today. The SM is assembled and tested at Orbital ATK's Dulles, Virginia, satellite manufacturing facility and incorporates systems from Orbital ATK's flight-proven LEOStar™ and GEOStar™ satellite product lines.
The current Cygnus spacecraft is filled to the brim with science gear, a haul that includes almost 7,500 lbs. The string of incidents left ISS astronauts without new supplies for a year, until a December 2015 launch of Cygnus on the Atlas V rocket.
The experiment will be done alongside the Gecko Gripper experiment, which will test adhesive's effectiveness in space, and Saffire-I, which will research fire safety in space. "We're using Cygnus now not only as a logistics vehicle for cargo delivery and removal but also really as a testbed for NASA research". Husband and six crewmates were killed when Columbia, which suffered wing damage during launch, broke apart during re-entry. During their time in space, astronauts lose muscle mass and bone density, which is why space station crew members work out two hours every day. It's due there Saturday.
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Just days after receiving three new crew members, the International Space Station is about to become a veritable shipping hub, as three cargo ships launch to the orbital laboratory in as little as three weeks. The Meteor study will observe meteor shows from the space station and explore their chemistry. After the cubesats are released and Saffire burns, Cygnus will be host to one final experiment: the Reentry Breakup Recorder will track the craft's breakup as it's destroyed in re-entry over the Pacific Ocean. Loaded with trash and once it is at a safe distance from the station, NASA engineers will then set off a blaze inside the capsule to see how large flames behave in space.
An Atlas rocket provided by United Launch Alliance will provide the ride from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Orbital will start testing the new engines in early May, and says it will be ready to launch another supply package to the space station this summer. SpaceX has successfully launched three Falcon 9's since then, but this will be the first to ISS.
The most significant upgrades NASA has made since the first 3D printer was installed on the ISS in November 2014 are design changes. "Consumables-wise, we're in very, very good shape". The Russian space program will deliver cargo to the ISS next, followed by SpaceX. It will be the first time both a Cygnus and Dragon are at the orbiting outpost at the same time.