- United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carried a cargo-laden Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft towards the International Space Station (ISS).
- It carried over 3,000 kg pounds of research material that will directly support over dozens of key investigations on the orbiting laboratory
- The mission will deliver experiments, equipment and supplies to the orbiting laboratory and its six-member crew of astronauts and cosmonauts
- The station’s current crew, known as Expeditions 45 and 46, will conduct more than 250 science and research efforts during its mission.
- Cargo carried to space on this mission includes payloads that were lost on two previous failed cargo missions.
- With the new supplies aboard the station, the crew will install the laboratory equipment including a new life science facility that will allow studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other micro-organisms.
- The astronauts will conduct experiments to survey the behaviour of gases and liquids and clarify the properties of molten steel in weightlessness.
- Cygnus will be grappled on December 9 by NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, using the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft.
- The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of 1,360 kg of trash.
- This is the first flight in a series that will include a crew change in addition to a Russian progress cargo craft leaving and another one coming to the station.
- In the near future, Boeing and United Launch Alliance plan to use the Atlas V to launch astronauts to the station in the CST-100 Starliner for NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme.
- SpaceX is preparing its own spacecraft combination — Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon — to carry astronauts to the station in the near future.
- Private companies were exploring the opportunities of launching versatile but simple spacecraft that could be used in groups for everything from establishing rapid communication links to weather forecasting.
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