First success of Antares-230 in 2017; rocket delivered to orbit Orbital ATK Cygnus “Gene Cerman” to low earth orbit.

Postponed from November 11 due the violation of safety zone around Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launch was performed successfully today. Fourteenth mission from MARS LP-0A placed on Wallops Island  was also part of extension program. It let NASA to order cargo mission to International Space Station under CRS-1 program before CRS-2 will start in 2019. For Orbital ATK it was ninth mission of Cygnus including first demo flight in 2013.

Cygnus in enhanced version with 3.3 t of cargo inside 27 cubic meter trunk was paired with Antares-230 rocket equipped with two RD-181 engines manufactured by Energomash. For this version it was second mission after CRS-5 cargo mission on 17 October 2016. Later for one time NASA and Orbital ATK decided to switch again Cygnus flights to ULA Atlas V (401). It was necessary to launch enhanced version of Cygnus with additional 400 kg of payload to compensate payload lost during Progress disaster in December 2016.

Launch performed today was planned to 12:14 UTC. As weather conditions were favorable all the preparations for flight were proceeded according to the plan. Unfortunately due the boats in the range offshore Wallops Island launch was delayed – second hold was extended for 10 minutes. Finally as 12:19 UTC rocket ignited two RD-181 engines and performed lift off. After 3 minutes 45 seconds first stage was cut off and separated from Castor 30XL second stage. After another 45 seconds and separation interstage Castor was ignited at T+4’30”. At T+7’15”  Castor was cut off and 45 seconds later it was already at designated orbit with perigee of 200 km and an apogee of 328 km. Finally at 12:30 UTC Cygnus was deployed. First signal confirmed good condition of spacecraft, solar arrays were deployed at 14:15 UTC.

Cygnus will spend following 48 hours chasing International Space Station. Next at 09:45 UTC on Tuesday, November 14, it will be grabbed with Canadarm2 operated by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli and next it will be docked to harmony or Unity nadir docking ports.