Astronaut Brings the Solar System to Earth in'Miniverse
19 April, 2017, 07:16
Rendezvous at the research outpost orbiting 250 miles overhead is planned Saturday morning, following Thursday's scheduled launch from Kazakhstan by a NASA astronaut and Russian cosmonaut who will join three Expedition 51 crew members.
The Cygnus spacecraft, named after former US astronaut John Glenn, took off atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at 11:11 a.m. EDT (1511 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. "Not only are we delivering needed supplies as the first launch under our new RapidLaunch™ offering, but we are truly honored to launch a payload dedicated to John Glenn on an Atlas V, helping to signify the gap we plan to fill as we start launching astronauts from American soil again in 2018".
That's because there was a special 360-degree camera installed near the base of the Atlas V rocket en route to the International Space Station.
The mission is the sixth Orbital-ATK spacecraft to visit the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Resupply Program, a contract Orbital-ATK shares with Boeing and SpaceX.
NASA launch commentator George Diller called the Atlas 5 with Cygnus, his final liftoff as the voice of launch control before retirement next month. Once the engines were at full power, the launch mount released the rocket and it was propelled swiftly past the service tower into the Florida skies.
"It was a handsome launch", said Vern Thorp, ULA's program manager for commercial missions.
Twenty-one minutes later, an Orbital ATK Cygnus craft packed with more than 7,600 pounds of food, supplies and experiments separated from the rocket's Centaur upper stage.
The 19-story missile soared off its seaside launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 11:11 a.m. EDT/1511 GMT. "Nearby, a computer protected by a blast-proof box will stitch images together in near-real time".
News 3 will be streaming the launch live and will also provide a link to watch the 360 video.
The shipper, Orbital ATK, asked Glenn's widow, Annie, for permission to name the spacecraft after him. He died last December at age 95. The flight was initially slated for March but delayed due to issues of hydraulics and ground equipment.