At 1:07 p.m. today, Orbital Sciences successfully launched its first resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-OA of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket launched the Cygnus spacecraft into Earth’s orbit, where it is currently traveling towards the ISS at approximately 17,500 mph. The spacecraft is expected to rendezvous with the ISS early Sunday morning.
Cygnus is carrying 2,780 pounds of supplies to the Expedition 38 crew, including science experiments, provisions for the crew, spare parts and experiment hardware. The payload includes 23 science experiments that will involve more than 8,600 students across the U.S. and Canada.
Known as the Orb-1 Mission, this is the first actual resupply mission to the ISS following a successful demonstration mission to the ISS in September.
As part of its $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, the Orb-1 Mission is the first of eight resupply missions to the ISS, expected to deliver approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo through 2016.
The Orb-1 Mission comes right on the heels of a positive announcement from the Obama Administration — the president approved an extension of the ISS through 2024, allowing for the possibility of more resupply missions past 2016.
The success of today’s launch is another illustration of Virginia’s leadership in the space industry. Through MARS, Virginia offers one of only four commercial sites authorized for orbital space launches.
To learn more about Virginia’s thriving aerospace industry, click here.
A view of the Antares rocket ready for launch from Pad-OA of MARS at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls.