US-based aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman has launched its 11th cargo delivery mission to send supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) for Nasa.

In the latest mission, Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus spacecraft was launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, US, at Nasa’s Wallops Flight Facility.

Following the launch, the Cygnus spacecraft deployed into orbit and Northrop Grumman engineering teams have successfully established communications with the vehicle.

The mission also completes Northrop’s Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1) contract with Nasa.

“This launch marks a new innovative capability for Antares and Cygnus, which enables a 24h late load of critical cargo.”

Overall, the Cygnus spacecraft carried 3,450kg of vital supplies and scientific equipment to the ISS. It also demonstrated late cargo load capability that will enable Nasa to launch time-sensitive research experiments.

Northrop Grumman flight systems vice-president and general manager Scott Lehr said: “This launch marks a new innovative capability for Antares and Cygnus, which enables a 24h late load of critical cargo.

“We are proud to partner with Nasa to provide more commercial capabilities supporting their missions.”

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Cygnus is scheduled to rendezvous with the crew aboard the ISS on 19 April.

The spacecraft will be attached with the ISS for nearly two months and depart for Earth with 3,500kg of cargo for disposal.

After releasing Cygnus, the Antares rocket also deployed secondary satellites for science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach programmes.

Under the CRS-1 contract, Northrop Grumman delivered nearly 30,000kg of cargo to the ISS, including the latest mission.

Later this year, the company will deliver a minimum of six initial cargo missions under Nasa’s CRS-2 contract.