Orbital Sciences Corp. launches cargo to ISS

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

mission control
The much-anticipated Orbital Sciences rocket launch finally went off without a hitch on Thursday.

Finally, after many delays, Orbital Sciences Corp. launched their cargo-loaded rocket to the International Space Station (ISS). This is the company’s first official delivery, but it wasn’t without a series of hiccups.

This Thursday, the company’s Antares rocket lifted their Cygnus cargo craft, capable of holding up to 4,400 pounds.

“All of us at Orbital believe in developing the capability to fly payloads, spacecraft and rockets into space on a commercial basis,” said Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s executive vice president before the launch. “We support government customers, private customers and now we are supporting the International Space Station and its research.” The unmanned spacecraft should have been launched sometime in December, but it ran into several problems.

First, NASA cancelled the December take-off in order to focus on making space station repairs. When the craft was set to go earlier this week, it had to be stopped again because of the polar vortex affecting many areas in the US. The launch was then scheduled for this Wednesday, but concerns about a solar flare – a large explosion of energy from our home star – caused the mission to be delayed another 24 hours. Sheesh!

Finally, the Antares launched on Thursday around 1pm and is expected to arrive at the ISS early on Sunday. “We are really looking forward to this first Orbital cargo mission,” said Dan Hartman, NASA’s deputy space station program manager. Some of the cargo being delivered to the ISS includes food, student-designed projects, ants, and children’s books the astronauts plan to read from space.

Orbital Sciences Corp. has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to deliver at least 8 more shipments to the ISS by the year 2016.

Images courtesy of NASA on YouTube.