Orbital ATK usually flies aboard with Antares launch vehicle, yet this time it will fly aboard the ULA's Atlas V rocket, which is already the third time.
In this handout photo provided by NASA, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft lifts off on from Space Launch Complex 41 on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch marks the company's seventh operational cargo resupply mission (OA-7) for NASA under its Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1) contract.
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The rocket's hydrogen-fueled Centaur second stage engine, an RL10C built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, will fire for about 13-and-a-half minutes to put the Cygnus in its initial orbit. Live 360 technology offers advanced capacities that can be used efficiently during the launch of space missions to give viewers a more immersive experience. Orbital ATK manufactured the arrays and composite structures at its Goleta and San Diego, California, facilities, and the propellant tanks for the Cygnus spacecraft at its Commerce, California, site. The launch was first scheduled to blast-off on March 24, and then it slipped from Marc 24 to March 27, and finally to programmed for 18th April.
"The crew, of course, is always very anxious to see what comes up in the Cygnus spacecraft", said Frank Culbertson, a former station astronaut who leads Orbital ATK's Space Systems Group. This will be the first live broadcast of the rocket launch. Weather is expected to be ideal for this morning's launch.
Three space station crew members, Sergey Ryzhikov, Andrey Borisenko and Shane Kimbroug, returned to Earth Monday in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
The commercial cargo ship, dubbed the S.S. John Glenn, holds almost 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of food, equipment and research for the space station.
The cargo ship is loaded with some 7,625 pounds of cargo and equipment, including more than 2,000 pounds of science gear, 2,100 pounds of crew supplies and almost 2,700 pounds of vehicle hardware.