John Glenn honored with launch of space station supply ship

United Launch Alliance's 19-story Atlas V thundered from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 at 11:11 a.m. Tuesday, flying through a few puffy clouds on a northeasterly trajectory over the Atlantic Ocean.

An Atlas-5 rocket carrying Cygnus spacecraft has blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida towards the ISS.

The shipper, Orbital ATK, asked Glenn's widow, Annie, for permission to name the spacecraft after him.

The mission is named the "S.S. John Glenn" in tribute to legendary NASA astronaut John Glenn - the first American to orbit Earth back in February 1962.

"John Glenn lived a life filled with firsts and broke barriers throughout his career, just like the tremendous men and women of the 45th Space Wing continue to do here daily", said Brig.

The Cygnus is carrying more than 7,600 pounds of supplies, scientific gear, and hardware that it will take to the ISS.

This launch was the seventh of ten resupply missions running through 2018 by Orbital ATK, according to a $3.1-billion contract between the company and NASA.

"The crew, of course, is always very anxious to see what comes up in the Cygnus spacecraft", said Frank Culbertson, a former station astronaut who leads Orbital ATK's Space Systems Group.

Other investigations to be supported by the latest Cygnus mission include the CLYC Crystal Growth experiment, which aims to discover the conditions for the development of defect-free crystals, and the Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection investigation.

"ULA is excited to be a part of the team that delivered such an important payload to astronauts aboard the ISS", said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Human and Commercial Systems, in a statement.

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter extra extended payload fairing (XEPF).

Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch two more CRS missions for NASA later this year using the company-built Antares rocket. "This mission once again clearly demonstrates the successful collaboration we have with our mission partners at NASA and ULA as we continue to shape the future of America's space operations, and serve as the 'World's Premier Gateway to Space'". OA-7 will be the 71st launch of the Atlas V rocket since its first launch in 2002. Orbital ATK manufactured the arrays and composite structures at its Goleta and San Diego, California, facilities, and the propellant tanks for the Cygnus spacecraft at its Commerce, California, site. Glenn, who died in December at age 95, was one of NASA's original seven astronauts and a retired U.S. Senator from Ohio.

Watch for Ken's onsite launch reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.



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