Cygnus cargo ship heads to space station

Cygnus launch
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket rises from its launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. (NASA Photo / Joel Kowsky)

Two uncrewed cargo craft are now en route to the International Space Station, thanks to the launch of a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spaceship atop an Antares rocket.

Liftoff came right on time at 4:01 a.m. ET (1:01 a.m. PT) today at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA said the Antares’ ascent should have been visible from a stretch of America’s East Coast ranging from Massachusetts to the Carolinas, given acceptable weather conditions and viewing elevation.

A round of applause could be heard at Wallops’ launch control center when spacecraft separation was announced.

The rocket’s red glare came less than 15 hours after Russia’s robotic Progress spaceship began its trip to the space station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The close timing was the result of a couple of weather-caused delays for the Cygnus launch. The Progress is due to rendezvous with the station on Nov. 18, followed by the Cygnus’ arrival on Nov. 19.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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