Space sta­tion launches sec­ond sup­plies’ ship­ment mis­sion in 2 days

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Nation - BY MAR­CIA DUNN

CAPE CANAVERA

A load of space sta­tion sup­plies rock­eted into or­bit from Vir­ginia on Satur­day, the sec­ond ship­ment in two days.

And an­other com­mer­cial de­liv­ery should be on its way in a cou­ple weeks.

“What an out­stand­ing launch,” said NASA’s deputy space sta­tion pro­gram man­ager, Joel Mon­tal­bano.

Northrop Grum­man launched its Antares rocket from Wal­lops Is­land be­fore dawn, de­light­ing chilly early-bird ob­servers along the At­lantic coast. The Rus­sian Space Agency launched its own sup­plies to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion on Fri­day, just 15 hours ear­lier.

The U.S. de­liv­ery will ar­rive at the or­bit­ing lab Mon­day, a day af­ter the Rus­sian ship­ment. Among the 7,400 pounds of goods in­side the Cygnus cap­sule: ice cream and fresh fruit for the three space sta­tion res­i­dents, and a 3D printer that re­cy­cles old plas­tic into new parts.

Thanks­giv­ing tur­key din­ners — re­hy­drat­able, of course — are al­ready aboard the 250-mile-high out­post. The space sta­tion is cur­rently home to an Amer­i­can, a Ger­man and a Rus­sian.

There’s an­other big event com­ing up, up there: The space sta­tion marks its

20th year in or­bit on Tues­day. The first sec­tion launched on Nov. 20, 1998, from Kaza­khstan.

“As we cel­e­brate 20 years of the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion,” Mon­tal­bano noted, “one of the coolest things is the co­op­er­a­tion we have across the globe.” Then there’s the U.S. com­mer­cial ef­fort to keep the space sta­tion stocked and, be­gin­ning next year, to re­sume crew launches from Cape Canaveral. “To me, it’s been a huge suc­cess,” he said.

This Cygnus, or Swan, is named the S.S. John Young to honor the leg­endary as­tro­naut who walked on the moon and com­manded the first space shut­tle flight. He died in Jan­uary.

It is the first com­mer­cial cargo ship to bear Northrop Grum­man’s name. Northrop Grum­man ac­quired Or­bital ATK in June. SpaceX is NASA’s other com­mer­cial ship­per for the space sta­tion; its Dragon cap­sule is set to lift off in early De­cem­ber.

Ex­per­i­ments ar­riv­ing via the Cygnus will ob­serve how ce­ment so­lid­i­fies in weight­less­ness, among other things. There’s also med­i­cal, space­suit and other equip­ment to re­place items that never made it to or­bit last month be­cause of a Rus­sian rocket fail­ure; the two men who were rid­ing the rocket sur­vived their emer­gency land­ing. Three other as­tro­nauts are set to launch from Kaza­khstan on Dec. 3.

JOEL KOWSKY NASA via AP

The Northrop Grum­man Antares rocket with Cygnus re­sup­ply space­craft on board rises above the Thomas Jef­fer­son Me­mo­rial as it launches from Pad-OA on Satur­day at NASA’s Wal­lops Flight Fa­cil­ity in Vir­ginia.

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