Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Spacecraft blasted off from NASA’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at just past 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, carrying 7,300 pounds of equipment and supplies to the astronauts on the International Space Station.
NASA has been delegating launch duties for the Cygnus resupply craft to United Launch Alliance, an aerospace partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing Defense. The Cygnus is owned by Orbital ATK, an aerospace and defense company that manufactures missiles, warheads, planes, and spacecraft.
The Cygnus should arrive at the ISS on Saturday, where it will dock with the station via a giant robotic grabber-arm.
After the ISS’s hungry astronauts have pilfered the Cygnus of all its food, gear, and equipment, they’ll toss it back out into space for more science, this time with fire. Since an actual fire aboard a spacecraft hasn’t happened yet, NASA and the ISS want to figure out what to be prepared for if it does. They’ll use the empty Cygnus for “Saffire-1,” short for Spacecraft Fire Experiment, to monitor the effects of a large-scale fire in zero gravity.
You can watch a replay of the launch here, courtesy of Spaceflight Now.
Here’s a highlights video uploaded by ULA: