Rocket blasts off on space station cargo run

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By REUTERS in­Wal­lops Is­land, Vir­ginia

An un­manned Antares rocket blasted off on Monday with a cargo ship for the In­ter­na­tional Space Station, mark­ing the booster’s re­turn to flight two years after a pre­vi­ous ver­sion ex­ploded at liftoff.

The 14-story rocket, pow­ered by a pair of newRus­sian­made en­gines, lifted off from Wal­lops Is­land, Vir­ginia, at 7:45 pm, a NASA TV broad­cast showed. Launch was de­layed five min­utes to give the team ex­tra time to re­view their check­lists, said Or­bital ATK Inc, which owns the rocket.

“It’s such a feel­ing of elation to see the ve­hi­cle take off ... I’mvery happy to see Antares back,” said Amanda Davis, Or­bital’s di­rec­tor of pro­gram en­gi­neer­ing. Amanda Davis,

The rocket, car­ried a Cygnus cap­sule loaded with 2,400 kilo­grams of food, sup­plies, equip­ment and science ex­per­i­ments for the space station, a $100-bil­lion lab­o­ra­tory in or­bit about 400 kilo­me­ters above Earth.

The cap­sule is ex­pected to reach the station on Sun­day after lin­ger­ing sev­eral days in or­bit to al­low time for a Rus­sian Soyuz cap­sule car­ry­ing three new crew mem­bers to reach the out­post on Fri­day. The Soyuz is slated to launch on Wed­nes­day from Kazakhstan.

The last Antares launch, on Oct 28, 2014, ended in dis­as­ter a few sec­onds after liftoff due to a prob­lem with the booster’s re­fur­bished, Sovi­etera en­gines. After the ac­ci­dent, Or­bital sped up plans to re­place the mo­tors.

Dur­ing the down­time, Or­bital bought rides for two Cygnus cargo ships aboard At­las rock­ets, built and flown by United Launch Al­liance, a part­ner­ship of Lock­heed Martin Corp and Boe­ing Co.

Or­bital con­ducted a 30-sec­ond en­gine test fir­ing of the Antares at the Vir­ginia launch pad on May 31, but had never flown the re­fur­bished rocket be­foreMon­day.

The mis­sion be­came more cru­cial for the US space agency after a Sept 1 ac­ci­dent de­stroyed a Fal­con 9 rocket op­er­ated by ElonMusk’s SpaceX and a $200 mil­lion Is­raeli com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lite.

The ac­ci­dent, which oc­curred while the rocket was be­ing fu­eled for a rou­tine prelaunch test, has tem­po­rar­ily grounded SpaceX, the only com­pany apart from Or­bital cur­rently con­tracted by NASA to fly­car­goto thes­paces­ta­tion.

Pri­vate con­trac­tors for the cargo runs be­came nec­es­sary fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of the space shut­tles in 2011.

With SpaceX side­lined, NASA said it added ex­tra food, cloth­ing, lap­top com­put­ers and space­suit parts to the Cygnus cargo list.

It’s such a feel­ing of elation to see the ve­hi­cle take off ... I’m very happy to see Antares back.” Or­bital’s di­rec­tor of pro­gram en­gi­neer­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.