NASA successfully launches Antares rocket two years after explosion
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — NASA has successfully launched the Antares rocket nearly two years after the model exploded after launch.
The Antares rocket, which was topped with a Cygnus cargo spacecraft, lifted off just before 8 p.m. local time from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
It’s expect to arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday when the crew will maneuver it into position.
Cygnus is carrying 5,100 pounds (2,300 kilograms) of cargo for science experiments and supplies for the crew, among other things, according to NASA.
The rocket was built by Orbital ATK, a private aerospace and defense company, and is on its sixth resupply mission for NASA.
“It’s great to see the way people came together and made this happen,” said Frank Culbertson, the president of the space systems group at Orbital ATK. “It was done right, and that’s the important thing.”
The Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Sunday.
After lift off, Cygnus separated from the rocket.
The spacecraft’s solar array panels have since been deployed in order to provide it with power.
The launch was visible from much of the US East Coast, and images poured in on social media.
Cygnus is scheduled to detach from the space station in November and dispose of about 3,000 pounds of trash as it burns up on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere.
An Antares rocket malfunctioned upon launch in October 2014, after which its operators chose to deliberately detonate the rocket.
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That rocket and its cargo module were carrying 5,900 pounds of supplies and experiments.
Mark Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut and SpaceX advisory board member, told CNN it was the right call at the time.
“They commanded the destruct system to make sure it didn’t wind up in a populated area when they knew it wasn’t going to make it to orbit,” he said.