NASA launched an Atlas V rocket Tuesday morning from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at approximately 11:11 A.M. Eastern time that was carrying approximately 7,600 pounds of important goods inside of an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship for the International Space Station (ISS).
Image Credit: NASA/YouTube
Orbital ATK is a commercial space company that works alongside NASA to resupply the international Space Station, just like SpaceX. Their Cygnus cargo ship is akin to SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship.
Cameras were set up all around the launch site, including on the rocket itself, creating a 360º launch view. The footage was live-streamed on YouTube and social media so that audiences all around the world could tune in to watch over the internet.
A replay of the full launch is published to YouTube here:
The cargo ship has not yet docked with the ISS, but the rocket launch was indeed successful. The ship is expected to finally meet up with the ISS Saturday morning; four days after Tuesday’s launch.
Among the various types of cargo onboard were food, supplies, and science experiments to keep the astronauts currently on-board busy. The cargo ship was also carrying a truckload of cubesats (38 to be exact), which will be deployed after they arrive.
Both cubesats and smallsats are expected to change the way we carry out space exploration because they can be launched in huge arrays that gather more detailed data for a fraction of the cost of sending one large satellite to its destination.
Because they’re so much smaller, they require less space on cargo ships and less fuel to send into space, which means we can get them to their destination more easily and this opens the realm of space exploration to even more entities that previously could not afford it.