Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the ISS, following three days of take-off delay due to bad weather conditions.
On track to the International Space Station (ISS), the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is carrying 7,000 pounds of material for the ISS. Food, supplies, experiments and research materials are heading to the six-member crew aboard the orbital space station.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched successfully from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It is expected the cargo will reach the International Space Station in three days. The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the ISS aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket instead of an Antares as last year, the explosion of an Antares rocket halted all operations for Orbital Sciences.
The launch this Sunday is the first following a month-long hiatus. The launch of Orbital ATK Cygnus is the first to ferry cargo to the ISS since April. SpaceX has also grounded all operations involving Dragon cargo delivery spacecrafts since June this year following an explosion.
The month-long hiatus was used by Orbital Sciences to develop Cygnus’ capabilities in terms of capacity and size. Orbital ATK Cygnus now features 25 percent higher loading capacity, as well as new fuel tanks and solar arrays.
NASA declared that this is an exciting moment as more research material and experiments are being delivered to the six-member ISS crew. Currently, there are 324 research investigations on the list. Kirk Shireman, the programme manager for ISS at NASA, stated:
“It’s important to have a regular cadence of resupply flights, and we are looking forward to regular resupply to use the station as intended”.
It is intended that in the future both United Launch Alliance and Boeing will ferry astronauts to the International Space Station under the framework of the U.S. space agency’s Commercial Crew Programme. SpaceX is also joining the race with Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 spacecrafts.
On December 9th, Orbital ATK Cygnus will be met by Kjell Lindgren, NASA astronaut aboard the ISS. It will be docked to the International Space Station for over a month when it will be released to self-destruction.
Photo Credits: Space