Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station with about 7,400 pounds of cargo after launching at 4:01 a.m. EST Saturday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230 Rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad 0A at Wallops on the company's 10th cargo delivery flight, and is scheduled to arrive at the orbital laboratory on Monday. Expedition 57 astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the space station's robotic arm to grapple Cygnus.
This resupply mission will support dozens of new and existing investigations as Expeditions 57 and 58 contribute to some 250 science and research studies. Highlights from the new experiments include a demonstration of 3D printing and recycling technology and simulating the creation of celestial bodies from stardust.
The Cygnus spacecraft will remain at the space station until February before its destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere, disposing of several thousand pounds of trash. This is the seventh flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft, and the fourth using Northrop Grumman's upgraded Antares 230 launch vehicle featuring new RD-181 engines that provide increased performance and flexibility.
The spacecraft for this mission is named in honor of astronaut John Young. Young was selected for NASA's second astronaut class and flew during the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. He walked on the Moon during Apollo 16 in 1972 and commanded the first space shuttle mission in 1981. Young passed away in January.