Science News

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Spacecraft Launch Proves Successful

Cygnus Launch Picture
Credit: NASA/Orbital ATK

After multiple postponements attributed to bad weather, the Cygnus spacecraft has finally blasted off aboard an Atlas V rocket to rendezvous with the International Space Station in its commercial resupply mission — the first for Orbital ATK since their failure last year in which their launch vehicle exploded.

The launch, a success, marks the company’s fourth launch attempt in the past week, as the prior attempts were scratched as a result of bad weather out of Cape Canaveral.

Cygnus is transporting 7,300 pounds of supplies–including food, hardware, equipment and experiments–to the ISS and as it launched on December 6, it’s scheduled to arrive at the space station on December 9, Ars Technica reports.

The supply capsule launched aboard the United Launch Alliance (ULA) produced Atlas V rocket at 4:44 p.m. (ET), at the onset of its 30-minute launch window.

NASA mission manager for ULA Vern Thorp was quoted by the Planetary Society as having said that the “countdown was exceptionally smooth” and “one of those countdowns that makes it look kind of boring.”

Once the capsule has arrived, it is scheduled to be filled with roughly 3,000 pounds of garbage before it’s let loose on the Earth’s atmosphere, where it is fated to disintegrate upon reentry.

American astronaut Scott Kelly, who is stationed aboard the ISS, shared a picture of the Cygnus traveling towards the space station at sunset. He hashtagged the tweet #YearInSpace.

Kelly, who has been on the space station for over 250 days, has previously shared some incredible images and videos, including video footage of the aurora borealis.

United Launch Alliance shared a video showcasing some of the highlights of the launch on their YouTube channel.

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