First launch for Orbital’s Antares rocket since ’14 blast

Orbital ATK Successfully launched its Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight facility in Virginia for the first time since a massive explosion after liftoff two years ago en route to the International Space Station.

Since then, the rocket’s main engines have been replaced and on Monday they flawlessly propelled the Antares away from the same Launchpad. The Antares 230 is powered by new RD-181 engines from Russian manufacturer NPO Energomash.

The new Antares 230 rocket propelled an unmanned cargo capsule, called Cygnus, toward the orbiting outpost carrying  more than 7,100 lbs of supplies, food and science experiments.

A number of those experiments will study how fire behaves in microgravity and another will test out how different lighting conditions in space may affect astronauts’ health.

The Cygnus won’t deliver these experiments for a while, though. It’ll only take two and a half days for the capsule to perform the right maneuvers and reach the ISS, but the Cygnus is going to “loiter” a few extra days in space afterward. That’s because a Soyuz capsule is slated to bring three new crew members to the ISS on Friday, and NASA wants to wait to dock the Cygnus until after the new astronauts have arrived safely. If the Antares had launched on Sunday October 16th, as it was supposed to, the Cygnus would have been hooked up to the ISS on the 19th. But now the capsule will dock with the ISS on Sunday October 23rd.

The previous Antares rocket exploded in a fireball on October 28, 2014, just seconds after liftoff, destroying the cargo capsule and damaging the launch pad.


The author Charitz

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