Orbital ATK, NASA

Orbital’s ATK Cygnus Spacecraft has taken the next supply to the International Space Station on Monday. The liftoff has taken place from an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. This is the 10th flight of Cygnus which is used to deliver the cargo and equipment to the outpost in the low Earth orbit. The recent resupply mission is named as OA-9 and the spacecraft is named as the SS J.R. Thompson.

According to the spokesperson from the Mission Control, “In fond memory of [the Cygnus spacecraft’s namesake, aerospace executive] Mr. J.R. Thompson, we wish Cygnus a smooth trip on the rest of their journey to the International Space Station.”

Orbital ATK, NASA

The Orbital ATK’s Cygnus is loaded with about 7,385 lbs which include experiments, food, clothing and other scientific supplies. The supplies include the Cold Atom Laboratory, which will help the scientists to create the coldest spot in the universe with the help of lasers. The spacecraft also have 15 minisatellites and they will be deployed from the ISS. The weight of the scientific and experimental equipment is about 2,251 lb.  OA-9 is the second among the four missions that Orbital ATK was awarded as the extension to the CRS contract. In the original contract, Orbital was awarded eight CRS missions but it was reduced to seven after the Cygnus undergone the up-gradation and started using more powerful Atlas rockets for launches.

After the unloading of the new resupply, the Cygnus Spacecraft will then fill with disposable things and it will turn to a disposable vehicle. The design of the vehicle is such that it will intentionally burn up when it will re-enter the Earth Atmosphere. The spacecraft will be filled with loads of trash and other unneeded items. According to the Kirk Shireman, Who is the NASA’s Space Station program manager said, “What’s also important is it will bring home almost 3 tons of cargo back from the space station.”

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