An Orbital ATK Antares rocket has successfully lifted off at Wallops Island, Virginia on Monday at 7:45 p.m. EDT (2345 GMT). The new Antares 230 rocket will propel the unmanned cargo capsule Cygnus, which carries food supplies and science experiments for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Cygnus’ cargo on OA-5 also contains other supplies and hardware for spacewalks as well as clothing for the astronauts. It also carries experiments that the astronauts need to observe the behavior of fire in space.
The Virginia-based commercial spaceflight company Orbital ATK was relieved that the rocket, which was initially scheduled for launch on Thursday, October 13 but was postponed due to a ground support cable malfunctioning during the pre-launch checkout, did not suffer the same fate as the company’s previous rocket. The former rocket apparently exploded on October 28, 2014, just several seconds after its launching, also destroying the cargo capsule and launch pad with it.
Experts revealed that the explosion was due to a flaw in the rocket’s AJ26 engines, which was actually built 40 years ago in the former Soviet Union and were supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne. Now, the Antares 230 has the new RD-181 engines built from NPO Energomash, a Russian manufacturer.
The launch pad has also been rebuilt and is in a better condition before. The launch pad cost about $15 million (AU $19.5 million) to rebuild.
According to the officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the cargo ship is expected to arrive at the space station on Sunday, Oct. 23. The Cygnus cargo will also orbit our planet every 90 minutes with speed reaching of up to 28,200 kilometers per hour.
This mission is one of the private spaceflight company’s 10 missions into space under its $1.9 billion contract with the space agency. Overall, Orbital ATK will carry a total of 30,000 kilograms of cargo to the ISS.