On 21st May, ATK Antares rocket launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to ISS (International Space Station). The launch was successful. The Cygnus spacecraft has been named as S.S. J.R. Thompson. This name has been given by Orbital ATK. The late company executive inspires the name. The spacecraft is said to have carried more than three thousand three hundred fifty kg of cargo for the International Space Station.
The Antares rocket took off from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (Wallops Island, Virginia). The launch took place precisely at 4:44 a.m. There were slight changes done by the controllers because of the unexpected weather conditions. But the rocket was fortunate as the weather limitations soon calmed down with the progress of the countdown of the launch.
The concerned sources and officials informed that the rocket located the Cygnus spacecraft into orbit just after nine minutes of launch. However, the Cygnus spacecraft established its solar arrays after one more hour. The sources further added that the Cygnus spacecraft is expected to reach the International Space Station on May 24. According to Kirk Shireman, the ISS (International Space Station) program manager at NASA (National Aeronautics Space Agency), the launch was remarkable. He also added that everyone was feeling pleased with the successful launch of the Antares rocket and felt even happier as the mission progressed.
The load carried by the Cygnus spacecraft includes hardware stuff for the International Space Station, the payloads (scientific) and also the various supplies for the crew members. The scientific payloads carried by the Cygnus spacecraft include the CAL (Cold Atom Lab), the Biomolecule Extraction and also the Sequencing Technology. All these experiments are quite significant and are expected to bring positive results for the further scientific researches and discoveries.
In addition to this, National Aeronautics Space Agency (NASA) is planning to use the Cygnus spacecraft for analyzing its capability of boosting the orbit of the station. While the Cygnus spacecraft will stay on the International Space Station, it will be working towards changing the orbital velocity of the station by .06 m every second. It has also been said that the recent launch of Antares could be the last launch for Orbital ATK as an independent firm. It is so because last September, Northrop Grumman had announced a deal for acquiring Orbital ATK at the cost of $9.2 billion. It is expected that the deal will get closed in the first half of the year.