NASA successfully launches Antares rocket

Source NASA

Lifting off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the Antares rocket is now on its way to deliver the Cygnus spacecraft filled with over 5,000 pounds of cargo to crew members aboard the ISS.

Almost two years after their Antares rocket exploded moments after liftoff, Orbital ATK is hoping to return to flight with a cargo delivery to the International Space Station.

The two-stage booster, powered by new engines from Russian Federation and carrying a Cygnus cargo ship, blasted off on Monday at 7.45 p.m. EDT (5.15 a.m Tuesday, India time) from Virginia's Wallops Flight Facility.

Takeoff was originally scheduled for Sunday night, but a glitch with ground support equipment forced a 24-hour delay.

Orbital ATK's last flight attempt in 2014 ended in disaster, when the Antares rocket exploded seconds after takeoff from Pad-0A, disintegrating into a huge fireball, Space.com reported.

Orbital upgraded the Antares with new engines after an earlier model exploded 15 seconds into a commercial resupply mission to the space station on October 28, 2014.

The launch can be seen along the US East Coast.

Antares rocket is back in business following a successful launch Monday night on a NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission. Farther down the Carolina coast, it will become visible about 120-150 seconds after launch.

Once the Cygnus arrives at the station, astronauts will unload the cargo and fill the spacecraft with trash. The problem then was with the rocket's engines-prompting the switch to the Russian-made RD-181.

Monday's launch marked the largest payload aboard a Cygnus spacecraft to fly from Wallops Island. The launch is now set for 7:40 PM ET on Monday.

Matthew held up work at the Virginia pad a week ago, while this week Nicole threatened a tracking station in Bermuda that's necessary for the launch.

NASA has been relying on Orbital ATK and SpaceX to keep the space station stocked ever since the shuttles retired in 2011.

Astronauts aboard the space station are exposed to space radiation that can reduce immune response, increase cancer risk, and interfere with electronics.

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