Washington, Oct 18 (IANS) US aerospace firm Orbital ATK launched its sixth resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), using an upgraded Antares rocket almost two years after its predecessor exploded on lift-off.
The two-stage booster, powered by new engines from Russia and carrying a Cygnus cargo ship, blasted off on Monday at 7.45 p.m. EDT from Virginia’s Wallops Flight Facility.
Under NASA’s commercial resupply services contract, Cygnus carried about 2,400 kg of supplies and science experiments for the ISS, Xinhua news agency reported.
Cygnus was also carrying a new station research facility that will enable a new range of research experiments by allowing precise control of motion aboard the ISS.
One of the experiments is Saffire II, which studies how flames grow in space.
Also onboard were lighting systems studying the effect of lighting on sleep and daily rhythms, a tablet app collecting health-related data and a new way to measure neutrons as a part of the radiation exposure experienced by crews during spaceflight.
If all goes well, Cygnus will arrive at the ISS on October 23, where it will stay for about five weeks.
This resupply mission marked the first flight of the upgraded Antares 230 vehicle, and the first launch from Wallops since an Antares rocket and its Cygnus resupply vehicle were lost seconds after lift-off in October 2014.
Virginia-based Orbital ATK is one of two US companies that provide ISS cargo services for NASA, the other being SpaceX.