News / Science & Technology

    Orbital Sciences' New Cargo Ship Blasts Off for Space Station

    Orbital's Cygnus Spacecraft Heads to Space Stationi
    X
    September 18, 2013 11:58 PM
    Private industry's ability to handle resupply missions to the International Space Station was tested once again Wednesday when a second U.S. company launched its own rocket and spacecraft toward the ISS. VOA's Suzanne Presto has more about a feat that, until just last year, had only been accomplished by a handful of governments
    Related video report by VOA's Suzanne Presto
    Reuters
    An unmanned Antares rocket blasted off from a seaside launch pad in Virginia on Wednesday, sending a new cargo capsule to the International Space Station.

    The 13-story rocket, developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. , lifted off at 10:58 a.m. EDT (1458 GMT) from the state-owned Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.

    The two-stage booster, making its second flight, soared southeast over the Atlantic Ocean, leaving behind a pillar of smoke and flame visible from New York City to South Carolina as it headed into orbit.

    Perched on top of the rocket was Orbital Sciences' new Cygnus freighter, one of two robotic spaceships developed in partnership with NASA to fly cargo to the space station following the space shuttles' retirement.

    The capsule was expected to reach the space station, a $100 billion research complex that flies about 250 miles (about 400 km) above Earth, on Sunday.

    Privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, which began work about 18 months before Orbital Sciences, so far has made three trips to the station, a project of 15 nations.

    NASA invested a total of $686 million in Orbital Sciences and SpaceX and awarded the firms contracts totaling $3.5 billion to fly cargo to the station.

    “The Orbital investment far exceeds the NASA investment,” Orbital Sciences executive vice president Frank Culbertson told reporters at a prelaunch news conference on Tuesday.

    Culbertson declined to be more specific about how much the company has spent to develop Antares and Cygnus.

    “We're hoping for a long series of cargo resupply missions to recoup some of that [investment],” Culbertson added.

    Orbital Sciences expects to quickly transition from this week's trial run to the space station into its first operational mission for NASA in December.

    A successful flight may not only boost its chances for additional NASA work, but could attract commercial and scientific customers for both Antares and Cygnus.

    “We have a lot interest from people who are waiting to make sure we do, in fact, succeed with this before they place a firm order,” Culbertson said.

    Cygnus capsules are not designed to return to Earth, but since they can stay in orbit for extended periods of time, Orbital Sciences envisions secondary missions after the capsules depart the station, as well as dedicated flights for customers beyond NASA.

    Antares, a two-stage, medium-lift rocket, made a successful debut test flight in April.

    For Wednesday's flight, Antares is expected to place a Cygnus capsule, loaded with about 1,543 pounds (700 kg) of food, clothing and other supplies, into orbit.

    Over the next four days, the capsule will demonstrate its ability to maneuver in space and communicate with the station.

    If all goes as planned, Cygnus would fly itself to the station on Sunday so astronauts can use a robotic crane to pluck the capsule from orbit and attach it to a berthing port.

    The capsule is expected to remain docked at the station until Oct. 22. About two days later, it would fire braking rockets to leave orbit and fall back into Earth's atmosphere, burning up in the process.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora