An Orbital ATK-built spacecraft lifted off Sunday onboard a United Launch Alliance-made Atlas V rocket to deliver over 7,000 pounds of crew supplies and scientific instruments to the International Space Station.
NASA said Sunday the Cygnus OA-4 space vehicle’s launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station marks Orbital ATK’s fourth cargo delivery mission to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with the space agency.
“All these missions are critical to our journey to Mars – a journey we have already begun,” NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman said.
Cygnus will carry scientific equipment, NanoRacks-MicroSat-SIMPL microsatellite deployer system, Microsoft-built HoloLens devices, Safer safety jet pack, oxygen and nitrogen tanks and other cargo replacement items for the space station’s crew.
Orbital ATK said the spacecraft, also known as S.S. Deke Slayton II, established communications and reached the orbit approximately 144 miles above Earth 21 minutes after its launch.
The company expects the space vehicle to arrive at the ISS by Wednesday and stay there for approximately 50 days before it departs again for the Pacific Ocean with more than 5,000 pounds of disposable cargo.
“This launch marks the completion of the critical first step of our go-forward plan for the CRS-1 contract to meet our commitments to NASA… (and) begins a high tempo of cargo resupply missions supporting the International Space Station,” said Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK’s space systems group.
ULA’s Atlas V rocket used in the mission consists of a payload fairing, a Centaur upper stage supported by Aerojet Rocketdyne-built RL10C-1 engine and a booster powered by RD Amross-built RD-180 engine.
“In the 12 months since this launch was ordered, the ULA and Orbital ATK teams worked very closely together to integrate the Cygnus with the Atlas launch system, including development of a new structural adapter and also a mission design that includes a 30-minute launch window for this ISS rendezvous mission,” said Jim Sponnick, vice president for Atlas and Delta programs at ULA, a Boeing–Lockheed Martin joint venture.