NASA To Launch Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft Headed For The ISS Today And You Can Watch
A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket is scheduled to launch later today, carrying science experiments to the crew of the International Space Station (ISS). The launch is scheduled within a five-minute window that opens at 12:40 p.m. EST today, and you can watch live.
The ISS is headed into its last decade of service, but NASA and those aboard are not sitting idly by waiting for that day to come. A Russian cosmonaut and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut shared photos from ISS to their Twitter accounts earlier this week, giving a bird's eye view of Mount Etna erupting as plumes of smoke rose toward the heavens. Later today, an Antares rocket carrying new science experiments is set to launch from Virginia Space's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.
The Antares rocket will be carrying a payload of more than 8,300 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware. The payload will be stowed inside the Cygnus spacecraft, named the S.S. Piers Sellers, in honor of the late NASA astronaut who spent almost 35 days across three missions helping to construct the space station. Sellers passed away in 2016, following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Included in the payload are new science experiments that include investigations on skin aging and tumor cells, as well as test of technology for oxygen production, batteries, improving fire safety, and growing plants in space.
The study of growing plants in space could prove vital for future missions and space exploration that take astronauts further into the depths of space. "The investigation incorporates unique Root Modules designed to provide delivery and recovery of nutrient solution to the plants so they can be grown without the additional mass of any soil media," John Wetzel of Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Principal Investigator explained. "This approach is much more mass efficient for future large-scale plant growth systems in space."
As of this morning, the launch range forecast was 75% favorable, as ground winds are the primary concern. You can watch live here on HotHardware via NASA Television, on the agency's website, or various social media accounts. Live coverage is set to begin at 12:15 p.m. EST today.