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-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmarki
    X
    John Owens
    June 26, 2016 2:04 PM
    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora