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Tuesday 15 October 2019

Second shipment of supplies blasts off for space station

Northrop Grumman launched its Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia.

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket blasts off (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP)
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket blasts off (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP)

By Marcia Dunn, Associated Press

A load of space station supplies has rocketed into orbit from Virginia, the second shipment in two days.

Northrop Grumman launched its Antares rocket from Wallops Island before dawn, delighting chilly early-bird observers along the Atlantic coast.

“What an outstanding launch,” said Nasa’s deputy space station programme manager Joel Montalbano.

The Russian Space Agency launched its own load of supplies to the International Space Station on Friday, just 15 hours earlier.

The US delivery will arrive at the orbiting lab on Monday, a day after the Russian shipment.

Among the 7,400lb of goods inside the Cygnus capsule are ice cream and fresh fruit for the three space station residents, and a 3D printer that recycles old plastic into new parts.

Thanksgiving turkey dinners — rehydratable, of course — are already aboard the 250-mile-high outpost. The space station is currently home to an American, a German and a Russian.

There is another big event coming up – the ISS marks its 20th year in orbit on Tuesday. The first section launched on November 20 1998 from Kazakhstan.

“As we celebrate 20 years of the International Space Station,” Mr Montalbano said, “one of the coolest things is the co-operation we have across the globe. To me, it’s been a huge success.”

This Cygnus is named the SS John Young to honour the famous astronaut who walked on the moon and commanded the first space shuttle flight. He died in January.

It is the first commercial cargo ship to bear Northrop Grumman’s name. The firm acquired Orbital ATK in June. SpaceX is Nasa’s other commercial shipper for the space station.

Experiments also are going up to observe how cement solidifies in weightlessness, among other things.

There is also medical, spacesuit and other equipment to replace items that never made it to orbit last month because of a Russian rocket failure. The two men who were riding the rocket survived their emergency landing.

Three other astronauts are set to launch from Kazakhstan on December 3.

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