Space station supply ship honoring John Glenn launches

Eloi Lecerf
Abril 19, 2017

The Cygnus capsule, provided by private space company Orbital ATK, is packed with about 7,600 pounds of supplies and science for the International Space Station.

The launch is targeted for April 18 during a 30-minute window that opens at 11:11 a.m. EDT.

NASA is going to provide a unique view of today's launch of an Atlas V rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station - 360-degree video.

"This is not just for virtual reality viewers with 360 (degree) headsets, but anyone that's interested in gaining a panoramic view of the launch straight from their own smart device or personal computer", said launch commentator George Diller.

According to the US space agency NASA, the new experiments include an antibody investigation that could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment and an advanced plant habitat for studying plant physiology and growth of fresh food in space. Those looking to watch the mission live will get an extra special treat this time around: the launch will be the first one to ever be live-streamed in 360 degrees. That's because a pair of astronauts are scheduled to launch early Thursday morning on a Russian Soyuz rocket. Given that Glenn flew on an Atlas rocket and Tuesday's rocket is an Atlas, "I feel like we're bridging history".

Atlas V lifted off on time to clear sky at 11:11 a.m. with no delays on launch day.

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However, live 360-degree video is a brand new technology.

The cargo ship is operated by Orbital ATK, and is the company's seventh mission to space as part of a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to ferry supplies to the orbiting outpost.

The Cygnus spacecraft is loaded with 7,626 pounds (3,459 kilograms) of crew supplies, hardware and dozens of experiments aimed at studying fire, growing food and cancer therapies.

At 12:40 p.m., coverage of the Orbital ATK Cygnus solar array deployment will begin, followed by a post-launch press conference with mission managers at 2 p.m.

The April 18 launch is the third time that Cygnus is boosted by United Launch Alliance's Atlas V. The launch marks the ULA's 71st overall launch of the rocket and the 36th in the spacecraft's 401 configuration.

Soyuz spacecraft normally carry three people, but Russia recently chose to reduce its crew complement, and the number of yearly Russian supply missions, to save money.

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