United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in 401 version delivered to orbit Orbital ATK Cygnus robotic cargo spacecraft with resupply mission to International Space Station.
Cygnus spacecraft reached space on the top of the flagship rocket of United Launch Alliance. Atlas V in 401 configuration (with four meter fairing, no boosters and single engine installed at the upper stage) managed to deliver enhanced version of Cygnus spacecraft. With 3500 kg of payload, 300 kg more comparing to standard version delivered to orbit by Antares rocket, Cygnus OA-7 “John Glenn” will reach International Space Station in following days.
On picture above: Cygnus during encapsulation.
Rocket with Cygnus covered with fairing and installed on the top was rolled out from assembling facility at Cape Canaveral yesterday. Today weather conditions were good and launch was finally set to 15:11 UTC. At 14:38 UTC rocket was after fueling procedure and eleven minutes later Cygnus spacecraft remaining under fairing was switched to own battery power marking last phase of the launch preparations. At 15:05 UTC after final final polling was evaluated as fully ready for launch. At 15:11 UTC Atlas V started its engines and begun to rise over launch pad 41. After first fifteen seconds rocket was already after pitch, roll and yaw maneuvers and continuing flight on East. At T+1’25” rocket reached speed of 1 Ma and ten seconds later rocket passed point of peak dynamic pressure level. First stage was cut off at T+4’19” and separated eight seconds later. Centaur upper stage ignited RL-10C engine at T+4’37”. Nine seconds later payload fairing was separated and Centaur was continuing flight with exposed Cygnus on the top. At T+14’55” Centaur reached speed of over 23000 km/h to cut off its engines three minutes later. At T+21’7″ Cygnus separated from Centaur and begun its mission from reporting telemetry data confirming correct separation. Cygnus started to unfold its solar panels after self tests and at 17:42 UTC it was ready to start its flight to International Space Station.