An Orbital ATK Antares rocket has launched a Cygnus cargo craft carrying 7,385 pounds of supplies and research materials toward the International Space Station.
The launch represented Orbital’s first use of its Wallops Island, Va., launch facility since Oct. 28, 2014, when the explosion of another Antares rocket soon after liftoff forced a major reconstruction of the site.
Liftoff came at 7:20 a.m. EST Nov. 12. A planned Nov. 11 launch had to be scrubbed a minute before liftoff after an aircraft was spotted near the launch area.
The Cygnus, which separated from the Antares about nine minutes post-launch, is expected to reach the ISS on Nov. 14.
The Cygnus spacecraft is loaded with ISS crew supplies as well as sundry scientific equipment and related materials. It will deliver the cargo to the orbiting laboratory to support the Expedition 53 and 54 crews in the eighth contracted mission by Orbital ATK under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
The scientific equipment to be delivered will be used by ISS crew for a variety of technical demonstrations and experiments. Those include demos of boosted data-download rates to CubeSats and of space-to-ground laser communications, also involving miniature satellites; and research into the effects of spaceflight on genetic-based bacterial resistance.
“OA-8 marks Orbital ATK’s eighth cargo delivery mission to the space station, and the research on board will join many other investigations currently happening aboard the orbiting laboratory,” NASA said prior to the launch.
Dulles, Va.-based Orbital is set to be acquired by much larger aerospace and defense contractor Northrop Grumman of West Falls Church, Va.
Orbital’s last Antares ISS cargo shuttle came a year ago.