An Orbital ATK Cygnus is set to deliver supplies and equipment to the International Space Station after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Tuesday night atop an Atlas V rocket.
Blast off is set for 11:05 p.m., from Launch Complex 41, and there is a 30-minute launch window. The Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron is projecting a 90 percent chance of good launch conditions, with concerns only over buildup of cumulus clouds.
This will be Orbital ATK’s fifth mission to bring supplies to the space station, and the first time the astronauts there have gotten a full shipment since the last Cygnus was there in early December. Orbital ATK now says its payload will be almost 7,900 pounds, including some small “cube sat” satellites that will be deployed after the capsule leaves the station in April.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V is a stand-in rocket for Orbital ATK, which is reworking its own rockets following a late 2014 launchpad explosion. So the company is using Atlas Vs for this launch and the December launch, but expects to return to using its own Antares rocket and its own launch complex, in Virginia, for the next launch. Consequently, this launch likely will be the last time Floridians will see Cygnus go up for a while.
For science experiments, the Cygnus will be delivering equipment for the exploration of the in-space possibilities a new, powerful 3-D printer; a study of gecko-like adhesives; a study of regolith dust in microgravity; the study of meteors falling to Earth; and of fire in micro-gravity, which will be conducted in the Cygnus itself on its way back to Earth.
The capsule is expected to arrive at the space station Saturday morning.