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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs