Nasa launches space station cargo from Virginia


The crew of the Nasa International Space Station will be performing new scientific investigations as they will soon be equipped with a cargo that has been launched from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, US, as part of commercial resupply services mission.

Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad 0A on the company's upgraded Antares 230 rocket that carried more than 5,100lb of cargo.

Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the space station on 23 October.

"It shows what can be accomplish with a close partnership of federal and state agencies, along with the US industry, all working together."

Upon reaching, Expedition 49 astronauts Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Kate Rubins of Nasa will use the space station's robotic arm to grab Cygnus.

Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said: "It's great to see launches to the International Space Station happening again from the Virginia coast, and it shows what can be accomplish with a close partnership of federal and state agencies, along with the US industry, all working together."

It is the first flight to lift off from the upgraded Antares 230 launch vehicle, and is the first launch from Wallops since an Antares rocket and its Cygnus spacecraft were lost in October 2014.

The new enhanced Cygnus spacecraft has the ability to carry a greater payload, and is supported by new fuel tanks and UltraFlex solar arrays.

The cargo aboard the Cygnus will support dozens of new and existing investigations as the space station crews of Expeditions 49 and 50 contribute to approximately 250 science and research studies.

The experiments that will be carried out by the crew includes studies on fire in space, the effect of lighting on sleep and daily rhythms, collection of health-related data, and a new way to measure neutrons.