Feeds

BLAST OFF! Antares launches Cygnus on commercial cargo test mission

Shipping pants and chocs to scruffy, sugar-starved 'nauts

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The launch of a commercial rocket carrying a spacecraft with cargo intended for the International Space Station has successfully blasted off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia.

Today's 10:58 EDT flight time was slightly delayed due to a gaseous nitrogen adjustment that needed to take place ahead of the launch.

NASA astronauts will no doubt be waiting in anticipation of the arrival of the unmanned Cygnus - which is expected to dock at the International Space Station in about four days from now.

Its mission is to deliver about 1,500lbs (700kg) of cargo, including food and clothes, to the six-strong crew based on the microgravity laboratory that circles planet Earth at an altitude of about 250 miles.

Cygnus's consignment might well be conservative, but the purpose of what NASA has described as a demonstration mission is to put the ISS through its paces to see how well it can capture the spacecraft using the station's robot arm to attach it beneath the outpost on the lab's Harmony module.

Prior to the space truck's rendezvous with the ISS - which is planned for Sunday 22 September - NASA will carry out a number of systems and capabilities tests on Cygnus.

"After the space station flight control team has verified the results of these objectives, the spacecraft will be cleared to approach the station several days after launch," NASA said.

At that point more test and manoeuvres will be performed before the craft is gently nudged into place on the ISS.

The launch of NASA's Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft was originally set to happen on Tuesday. But NASA was forced to delay liftoff by 24 hours due to poor weather late last week that postponed the roll-out of Antares on to the launch pad in Virginia.

Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Image Credit: NASA/Brea Reeves

The US space agency added that there had separately been a technical glitch spotted during a combined systems check last Friday night affecting communications between ground kit and the rocket's flight computer.

NASA fixed the problem and said that teams were still working on trying to understand why the error had occurred.

In April this year, Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares became the second rocket to get off the ground under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) programme as part of President Obama's desire to palm off Low Earth Orbit duties to the private sector. That successful launch paved the way for today's blast off. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.