As per the latest reports, the Orbital ATK engineers are just giving a final check to their upgraded Antares rocket that is scheduled for a sub-freezing launch from the Virginia coast. The booster rocket will lift a Cygnus cargo ship with it which carries 7,400 pounds of equipment and supplies, and it will be deployed at the International Space Station. The rocket will blast off from Pad Oa at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Island, Virginia.

The time of the launch is fixed at 7:37:25 a.m. EST (GMT-5), roughly the moment Earth rotation carries the launch site into the plane of the ISS orbit. The atmosphere is expected to remain clear with a 95 percent chance of favorable weather conditions. The engineers informed that the expected launch-time temperature of around 25 degrees Fahrenheit posed no problems for the Antares rocket launch. But there is a small complicating factor regarding the launch view.

Kurt Eberly, Antares deputy program manager at Orbital ATK, said at a pre-launch press conference that rocket would be flying into the sunrise so it might make it a little harder to view it far down range. But he assured that for near range, it should be plenty viewable. Wallops spokesperson Keith Koehler said that a lot of people will get a near-range eyeful and around 1500-2000 people are expected to witness the launch from Wallops Visitor Centre. Throwing some light about the launch, Dan Hartman, deputy manager of the space station program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston said that they are really excited about the launch and the Cygnus ship is com0pletely filled with cargo on this mission. NASA reported the 7.400 pounds of cargo contains 2,734 pounds of crew supplies, 1,631 pounds of science gear and supplies, 1,875 pounds of space station hardware, 281 pounds of spacewalk equipment and 75 pounds of computer gear.

Camille Alleyne, a science planner at the Johnson Space Center informed that the research materials and equipment carried up in the Cygnus would help support some 300 investigations that “span all the scientific disciplines that ISS supports, including human research, physical sciences, biology and biotechnology, technology demonstration, Earth and space science and education. If Saturday’s launch becomes successful, then it will be become the eight commercial Cargo run to the ISS by Orbital ATK for NASA.


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