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Atlas-5 rocket carrying Cygnus spacecraft blasts off from Cape Canaveral

20 April 2017, 06:18 | Bernard Bryant

Atlas-5 rocket carrying Cygnus spacecraft blasts off from Cape Canaveral

Atlas-5 rocket carrying Cygnus spacecraft blasts off from Cape Canaveral

An Atlas 5 rocket with a Cygnus cargo capsule lifted off from Cape Canaveral Tuesday morning, in a mission planned by the commercial space company ATK. Orbital ATK manufactured the arrays and composite structures at its Goleta and San Diego, California, facilities, and the propellant tanks for the Cygnus spacecraft at its Commerce, California, site. "This mission once again clearly demonstrates the successful collaboration we have with our mission partners at NASA and ULA as we continue to shape the future of America's space operations, and serve as the 'World's Premier Gateway to Space'". Orbital ATK is a private sector company that operates the cargo ship and has a contract with NASA to transport supplies and cargo to the global space station. The OA-7 mission has been on hold for a month due to a technical issue with the rocket's first-stage hydraulics.

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.

It was Orbital's seventh operational resupply launch under an initial $1.9 billion contract from NASA calling for eight flights through 2016.

The company also noted that its Cygnus system features a common service module and pressurised cargo module. The PCM is based on the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), developed and built by Thales Alenia Space of Italy.

ULA's 71st Atlas V rocket is scheduled for launch at 11:11 a.m. EDT (1411 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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The time slot for launch was no more than 30 minutes.

The rocket carried a Cygnus cargo capsule loaded with more than 7,600 pounds (3,450 kilograms) of clothes, food, water, equipment and science experiments for the space station crew.

NASA worked in coordination with Orbital ATK, which makes the Cygnus spacecraft that sits atop the Atlas V, and rocket maker United Launch Alliance to place "four fisheye-lens cameras on the pad, around 300 feet from the rocket", the website Engadget explains. OA-7 will be the 71st launch of the Atlas V rocket since its first launch in 2002.

Orbital ATK previously bought two Atlas V rides to the space station to fill a gap while Antares was retrofitted with new engines.

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