Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

John Glenn honored with launch of space station supply ship


Orbital ATK, one of NASA's main delivery services for the International Space Station, opted to use an Atlas V for this supply run from Cape Canaveral versus its own smaller, Virginia-based Antares rocket in order to haul up more items.

Cygnus OA-7 is loaded with 3459 kg (7626 pounds) of science experiments and hardware, crew supplies, spare parts, gear and station hardware to the orbital laboratory in support over 250 research experiments being conducted on board by the Expedition 51 and 52 crews.

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter extra extended payload fairing (XEPF).

The unmanned rocket is poised to blast off at 11:11 a.m. from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a commercial cargo ship named the S.S. John Glenn.

Cygnus is carrying 7,626 pounds of resupply materials and science experiments.

"It's an honor to launch the spacecraft which has been named in memory of John Glenn", Thorp told reporters.

The company said Tuesday the spacecraft, nicknamed S.S. John Glenn, lifted off at 11:11 a.m. This is the lightest version of ULA's venerable Atlas V series, comprised of only of the RD-180-powered Atlas booster for its first stage and an RL10C-powered Centaur upper stage.

The four fisheye-lens cameras capturing the launch were located at the periphery of the pad, about 300 feet from the rocket.

"Congratulations to our mission partners at Orbital ATK and NASA on another successful launch that will help advance our scientific knowledge on Earth and in space, and inspire the next generation of space explorers", said Wentz.

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency and NASA's Peggy Whitson will use the space station's robotic arm to capture the Cygnus capsule at about 6 a.m. Saturday.

The time slot for launch was no more than 30 minutes. It will burn up in the atmosphere.

"Cygnus is healthy and both solar arrays are deployed", Orbital ATK said in a statement later in the day.

NASA's 360-degree video streaming of the launch — the first such attempt for a live broadcast — didn't go as well.

Initially scheduled for last month, the mission, a partnership between NASA and commercial spaceflight company United Launch Alliance (ULA), was delayed because of problems with the Atlas V's hydraulic system.

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