Orbital ATK launches 8th cargo resupply mission to space station
12 Nov 2017, 18:18 ( 5 days ago) | updated: 12 Nov 2017, 22:02 ( 5 days ago)
U.S. aerospace firm Orbital ATK's unmanned cargo ship blasted off Sunday for its eighth resupply mission to the International Space Station.
The Cygnus spacecraft took off atop the company's own Antares rocket at 7:19 a.m. EST (1219 GMT) from the Wallops Flight Facility on the east coast of the eastern U.S. state of Virginia.
Under a commercial resupply services contract with the U.S. space agency NASA, Cygnus carried about 7,400 pounds (3,350 kg) of crew supplies and science experiments to the space station.
Among the cargo were several CubeSats, or small satellites, which will conduct a variety of missions, from technology demonstrations of laser communication and increased data downlink rates to an investigation to study spaceflight effects on bacterial antibiotic resistance.
Other experiments will advance biological monitoring aboard the station and look at various elements of plant growth in microgravity that may help inform plant cultivation strategies for future long-term space missions.
The spacecraft also transported a virtual reality camera to record a National Geographic educational special on Earth as a natural life-support system. ' If everything goes well, Cygnus will arrive at the station two days later, where it's expected to stay for nearly one month.
The spacecraft will depart the station in early December and deploy several CubeSats before its fiery re-entry into Earth's atmosphere as it disposes of several tons of trash.
The Virginia-based Orbital ATK is one of two U.S. companies that provide cargo delivery services to the station for NASA. The other company is SpaceX in the western U.S. state of California.