Antares rocket launches from Wallops Island, first time Cygnus aircraft serves second mission

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WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. – If you were near the Wallops Flight Facility on Saturday, you may have felt it, or heard it. We’re talking about an Antares rocket lifting off around 12:40 in the afternoon, carrying a Cygnus spacecraft packed with research supplies heading to astronauts on the International Space Station.

“There’s a lot of science that’s flying on this mission, and representing a myriad of things from life sciences, physical sciences, materials, even student experiments that are launching on this mission as well,” Patrick O’Neill, with the International Space Station National Lab, said.

From where our 47 ABC crew stood, the rocket looked tiny, like a small missile in the distance. But this space vessel is massive.

“The rocket is a 139 feet tall,” Kristie Davidson, with Northrop Grumman, the group behind the rocket, said.

This launch is only the beginning of the mission.

“Once we get Cygnus up into orbit, Cygnus will chase down the space station and they will capture Cygnus, dock it, and start unloading all of the food, science experiments, clothing, critical hardware,” Davidson said.

Some of the supplies on Cygnus will aid in research toward breast and prostate cancer cells, skin aging, and even research on plant growth. Cygnus spacecraft have been to the ISS before to deliver supplies, but this trip to the sky is special. It marks the first time Cygnus is serving a second purpose while up there.

“It will be providing a re-boost and making sure the International Space Station stays in it’s proper orbit,” Ellen Klicka, with Cygnus, said.

So while the smoke from the launch has cleared and the rocket is out of eyesight when you look to the sky over Virginia, know there’s history being made.

 

Categories: Local News, Virginia