U.S. cargo ship blasts off for space station with supplies, experiments

The Cygnus spacecraft, named after former US astronaut John Glenn, took off atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at 11:11 a.m. EDT (1511 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Atlas V rocket, the spacecraft is set to launch, carrying more than 7,500 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Cygnus OA-7 spacecraft is loaded with supplies for the ISS crew and a number of cubesats, including many belonging to the QB50 project. The cargo ship was launched into space by Atlas V rocket.

The Cygnus is pressed with more than 7,600 lbs. However, scientists are confident about suitable weather conditions for launch.

"We are sorry we missed Easter", said Culbertson, a former NASA astronaut, "but we're pretty sure they'll be excited about their Easter baskets and whatever great things International Space Station science put on board for them".

Normally it takes two to three days for cargo vehicles to meet up with the ISS, but the Cygnus is actually going to hang out in orbit for a little while once it launches. The SS John Glenn is expected to rendezvous with the Space Station on Saturday after a Russian Soyuz spacecraft launching on Thursday has time to reach the station, according to Space.com.

When Cygnus arrives at the ISS, it will be grabbed by the stations robotic Canadarm2, which will be operated by the crew of Expedition 51, at about 6:05 a.m. EDT (10:05 GMT). The spacecraft will remain at the space station until July before its destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere, disposing of several thousand pounds of trash. Resupply materials include food, spare space station parts and hardware for upgrades.

The SAFFIRE III experiment, the third in NASA's series of tests to study the spread of fire in space, will be conducted.

The crew aboard the International Space Station will be getting a visitor pretty soon in the form of an automated cargo ship. The Antares is planned for this year which will be propelling the next Cygnus mission. However, Orbital couldn't use the Antares for a while after one of the vehicles exploded just seconds into a launch in October 2014.

The United Launch Alliance liftoff was the swan song for George Diller, the well-known voice of countdowns at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Bart Leahy is a freelance technical writer living in Orlando, Florida.

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