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Orbital ATK blasts off from NASA launch pad
20 April 2017, 06:29 | Justin Tyler
NASA via Getty Images
Because the launch was delayed a month by hydraulic problems at the pad and on the rocket, no Glenn family members were able to make it to Cape Canaveral, according to Culbertson.
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.
Passing through 10,000 miles per hour, the first stage engine shut down as planned four minutes and 15 seconds after liftoff and the spent stage fell away.
"It was a attractive launch", said Vern Thorp, United Launch Alliance (ULA) commercial missions program manager. OA-7 will be the 71st launch of the Atlas V rocket since its first launch in 2002. NASA awarded Orbital ATK and SpaceX commercial resupply services contracts, under which each company is to deliver at least 20 metric tons of cargo to the space station.
The hydrogen-fueled Aerojet Rocketdyne engine powering the Centaur second stage then flashed to life and burned for almost 14 minutes to complete the climb to a 142-mile-high roughly circular orbit tilted 51.6 degrees to the equator, the same as the space station's. "We've got the prop system pressurized, the power system is up, we deployed the solar arrays".
The Cygnus is slated to stay at the station until July, when it'll be loaded up with trash, detach, and hang out in orbit again.
"It's an honor to launch the spacecraft which has been named in memory of John Glenn", Thorp told reporters. Beginning in 2019, Orbital ATK will conduct a minimum of six initial cargo missions under NASA's CRS-2 contract.
The Cygnus is also carrying 38 small satellites known as CubeSats, many of which have been built by college students.
Launch time is 11:11 a.m. EST.
"I was trying to figure out last time I was out and saw one", Diller joked.
French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Peggy Whitson of NASA will operate the space station's robotic arm to grab the Cygnus and bring it in to berth at the lab at 6:05 am (1005 GMT) on Saturday, NASA said.
It contains the Advanced Plant Habitat, which will help astronauts grow food and practice techniques for sustaining themselves on future long duration flights.
Normally it takes two to three days for cargo vehicles to meet up with the ISS, but the Cygnus is actually going to hang out in orbit for a little while once it launches.
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