Orbital ATK has launched its ninth cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from Nasa’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, US.

The mission was launched on-board an Orbital ATK Antares rocket on behalf of Nasa under the CRS-1 contract.

As part of the launch, the Antares rocket carried Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft, which was loaded with around 3,350kg of supplies and scientific equipment.

The rocket deployed the spacecraft into orbit around nine minutes into the flight.

Orbital ATK has established reliable communications with the spacecraft, which has already fully deployed its solar arrays to receive necessary electrical power to operate.

“It is hoped that the study will help understand how the DNA of humans, plants, and microbes are affected by microgravity.”

Using ISS’s robotic arm, Nasa astronauts Scott Tingle and Ricky Arnold will capture Cygnus once it arrives at the station on 24 May.

Cygnus is expected to depart the station in July this year with nearly 3,200kg of disposal cargo. It will burn up during its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

Cygnus’s pressurised area included a traditional method of celestial course-plotting, Sextant Navigation, which has been designed to explore the use of a handheld instrument for emergency routing during missions in deepspace.

Among other supplies, Cygnus carried the biomolecule extraction and sequencing technology (BEST) study, which Nasa intends to use to advance in-space DNA sequencing technologies that can identify microbial organisms living on the space station. It is hoped that the study will help understand how the DNA of humans, plants, and microbes are affected by microgravity.

In addition, Orbital ATK is expected to conduct at least six cargo missions to the ISS under Nasa’s CRS-2 contract next year.