NASA to provide1st live 360-degree view of rocket launch

It was Orbital's seventh operational resupply launch under an initial $1.9 billion contract from NASA calling for eight flights through 2016.

"We are very proud of that fact, that this spacecraft is named after my former fellow astronaut John Glenn, a real pioneer in the space world who launched for the first time out of here on an Atlas rocket", said Frank Culbertson, a former shuttle commander who manages Orbital's Space Systems Group.

Bye bye, Cygnus! Say hello to the ISS astronauts for us!

Twitter fans celebrated a successful launch. "We are proud to dedicate this mission to John and his family".

According to the estimation made it should arrive at the station on April 22 carrying cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and American astronaut Jack Fischer. "Orbital ATK is well-positioned to introduce an intermediate and large class family of launch vehicles by leveraging the strengths of the merged company to achieve low-priced assured space access for current and future national security payloads and other satellites".

Along with some belated Easter baskets for the crew, the cargo also includes a number of key science experiments: one involves testing out a new antibody drug that could help make chemotherapy treatments more effective for cancer patients.

After the load is emptied and Cygnus is pressed brimming with junk, the module will be discharged for its plunge back to Earth. In addition, a NanoRacks deployer will release four cubesats used for weather monitoring and global ship tracking. After the vehicle has reached a safe distance from the station, they light a fire and data is collected before the vehicle re-enters Earth's atmosphere. Orbital has also experienced a failed mission.

The Cygnus spacecraft consists of a common Service Module (SM) and a Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM). Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs approximately 12,500 people in 18 states across the USA and in several global locations.

The enhanced version of Cygnus uses Orbital ATK's new lightweight, space-qualified, electrical power technology, UltraFlex solar arrays.

But before its mission comes to a fiery end, Cygnus will spend a couple of hours running an automated experiment to see how a large-scale fire acts in microgravity. There are no side mounted solids on the first stage.

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.

  • Carolyn Briggs