U.S. Cargo Craft Waits at Virginia Launch Pad

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is raised into vertical position at its launch pad Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket rolled out to its launch pad in Virginia Thursday night carrying the American-made Cygnus cargo craft. Cygnus is scheduled to launch no earlier than Sunday at 8:03 p.m. EDT.

If Cygnus launches on time it will arrive at the station Wednesday morning and deliver about 2,400 kilograms of crew supplies and research. Cygnus will depart in late November and deploy a set of weather monitoring nanosatellites before conducting the Saffire-II internal combustion experiment.

Back in space, astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi collected blood samples and spun them in a centrifuge before stowing them in a science freezer. Samples are collected before, during and after missions then analyzed by doctors to understand the effects of living in space on humans. Current human research experiments using the sample data include Biochem Profile, Cardio Ox and Repository.

Onishi also scanned his neck, thigh and heart with an ultrasound then checked his blood pressure. The biomedical study from Canada observes heart and blood vessel changes with results potentially improving health on Earth and in space.

Russia’s Progress 63 space freighter undocked from the International Space Station early Friday morning and burned up safely over the Pacific Ocean a few hours later. It will be replaced by a Progress 63 cargo craft in early December.

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