A transporter carries the Orbital ATK Cygnus pressurized cargo module, sealed inside a shipping container, to the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The module will soon begin preflight preparations for its upcoming mission to carry hardware and supplies on the company’s Commercial Resupply Services flight to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Charles Babir
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is comfortably in space this evening following a thunderous ride to orbit atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft is stocked with more than 7,000 pounds of supplies and equipment for the International Space Station, including gear for continuing the scientific research on the orbiting laboratory. Read a complete account of the launch and its importance in the station’s work off the Earth, for the Earth and how research on the station will contribute to a future journey to Mars at http://www.nasa.gov/feature/cygnus-soars-spaceward-with-science-and-supplies-to-advance-space-station-mission
The food and supply shelves of the International Space Station will be stocked well into May once the gear inside Orbital ATK’s Cygnus is unpacked and stowed in the orbiting laboratory, said NASA’s Ven Feng of the space station’s Transportation Integration Office.
“We are very proud to be back in space again,” said Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group. “We have some more work in front of us of course, but we’re optimistic that’s going to go as planned. Everything was about as it could get.”
“This mission was OA-4, launched on the fourth attempt at 4:44, so I guess all the numbers lined up today,” said Vernon Thorp, United Launch Alliance’s program manager for NASA missions.
Tune in to NASA TV to watch the pot-launch press conference following today’s flawless liftoff and flight of an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. You can also stream NASA TV at www.nasa.gov/nasatv.
Here are a few launch photos from earlier today. You can see more at flickr.com/NASAKennedy. Photos by NASA/Kim Shiflett
“We had a perfect orbit injection, really right on the money,” said Orbital ATK’s Frank DeMauro, manager of Cargo Resupply for the company, seen on the right in this image from NASA TV’s launch coverage with Mike Curie, launch commentator. “Everything’s looking great. The power system’s healthy, the propulsion system is healthy, we’re flying a good spacecraft.”
A United Launch Alliance lifted the Cygnus into space, the first time that combination has been used for a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.
“It was good to see the rocket head up there and put us exactly on target,” DeMauro said. “Most importantly the folks we’re really serving are the crew on the space station. We are thrilled we could serve them this way it’s been a great day and we look forward to more great days in the future.”
Wednesday will be the berthing day for Orbital ATK’s Cygnus following today’s flawless liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. With its solar arrays deployed for power production, the Cygnus will fly autonomously to catch up to the station as ground controllers maintain a close watch from Earth. Cygnus, loaded with 7,380 pounds of equipment and supplies, will move to within reach of the 57-foot-long space station arm. Astronauts operating the arm will grapple the Cygnus and connect it to the Earth-facing port on the Unity module so it can be unpacked and the gear inside put to use.
Ground controllers received confirmation that the first of Cygnus’ two solar arrays deployed as planned.