Sci-tech

Cygnus spacecraft heads for International Space Station

Cygnus spacecraft heads for International Space Station

The Cygnus spacecraft, named after former USA astronaut John Glenn, took off atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at 11:11 a.m. EDT (1511 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"As the countdown starts to launch the rocket, we are proud and humbled to name the OA-7 Cygnus spacecraft in honor of John Glenn", said Frank Culbertson, President of Orbital ATK's Space Systems Group. He was the first American to orbit the Earth. He died at the age of 95. Aboard was over 7,000 pounds of science stuff, supplies and hardware.

After his unfortunate death past year, Annie Glenn, Glenn's widow, granted Orbital ATK, one of NASA's accredited delivery services, along with SpaceX, the permission to use his name for a space supply ship set to replenish the International Space Station.

"The more research we can carry, the more they can do their job and the more they can show the utility of the International Space Station". This specific experiment will also test the performance of different heat shield materials that may be used on future USA space missions.

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"While in space, after traveling a safe distance from the station, the fire is lit and data is collected before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere", said a statement from NASA.

The capsule was carrying a space combustion experiment that will intentionally burn a single large sample of material to study flame development in space.

Orbital ATK's composite structures and retro motors also supported today's launch of the ULA Atlas V rocket.

But the live 360 stream appeared to completely miss the actual launch itself, with viewers seeing the rocket on the ground a second ago and then a red spot high in the sky.

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"Live 360-degree is an emerging technology", the USA space agency said in a statement.

"We have a wide range of support equipment that's going to be headed to the station to support the science that's up there already, but also to introduce brand new capabilities", noted Tara Ruttley, associate scientist for the ISS program, during a prelaunch news conference at Kennedy Space Center.

This launch was supposed to happen in March, but a leak caused the flight to be grounded.

The crew aboard the International Space Station will be getting a visitor pretty soon in the form of an automated cargo ship.

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