NASA Launches Orbital-2

NASA

NASA has launched Orbital-2, a mission to resupply the renowned International Space Station (ISS) with cargo from Orbital Science Corp’s spacecraft called Cyngus. The launch took place in Virginia from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Launch Pad on July 13 at 12:52PM EST aboard the Antares rocket. The launch was considered a success!

NASA launched Orbital-2, which stands for “Orbital Sciences’ second Commercial Resupply Services Mission,” in order to bring supplies to the ISS, as reported by the International Business Times website. Orbital Science Corp had originally launched a mission back in January 12 after two delays took place due to cold weather on January 7, and space weather involving an X-class solar flare the following day. Another mission supplying cargo to the ISS took place on April 20 by a space transportation company called SpaceX which used Dragon spacecraft.

According to Alex Knapp of Forbes Magazine, the recent launch is Orbital Science’s third successful launch. It was the second of eight cargo launches set to take place as part of a $1.9 billion contract with NASA until 2016. The spacecraft is expected to reach ISS at 6:39AM on July 16. Two astronauts will be aboard the ISS when it reaches the space station. This includes NASA’s Steve Swanson, and Alexander Gerst from the European Space Agency.

NASA launched Orbital-2 in an effort to resupply 3,300 pounds of cargo, including food and supplies, hardware and equipment for satellite purposes. This includes nano-satellites designed by Planet Labs to take images of the Earth, and “satellite-related investigation” technology referred to as TechEdSat-4 which is reported to bring small samples back to Earth. Also included are 15 science experiments from 99 primary school students, and 10 projects from secondary school students and commercial companies, according to Knapp.

According to NASA, the ISS is a platform known for its contribution to science, research and the latest innovations of space technology. Astronauts from around the world board the station to test the newest technology and conduct the latest research that can then be reported back to Earth. NASA states the ISS has been the “next great leap in exploration” since 2000 and may help in future missions that can one day take astronauts to flying asteroids and possibly even to Mars.

In fact, according to W.J. Hennigan of The Los Angeles Times, NASA and Boeing Co. recently finalized a $2.8 billion deal over a powerful, new rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) that may soon take astronauts to Mars! Two missions have already been planned to take place in 2017 and 2021 with the first mission being an empty carry, and the other mission carrying the Orion spacecraft and four NASA astronauts. Hennigan reported Orion will be able to reach depths of space that will put it closer to such destinations as “near-Earth asteroids, the moon, and ultimately Mars.”

The first initial test of the SLS rocket is planned to occur from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Until NASA sees the SLS project progress, however, it is concentrating on its recent launching of Orbital-2, and the arrival of the Cygnus spacecraft on the ISS.

By Liz Pimentel

Sources:
NASA
I.B. Times
Forbes
L.A. Times

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