Rocket launching with cargo for International Space Station

By William Harwood

/ CBS News

After loading last-minute cargo and biological samples, including 40 mice, Northrop Grumman engineers readied an Antares rocket and Cygnus supply ship for launch from Virginia's Eastern Shore Wednesday on a two-day flight to the International Space Station, the second of three planned resupply runs in less than a month.

Liftoff from pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport – MARS – at NASA's Wallops Island, Virginia, test facility was targeted for 4:46 p.m. EDT, the moment Earth's rotation carries the pad into the plane of the station's orbit – a requirement for rendezvous missions.

If all goes well, the Antares 230 rocket, powered by two Russian RD-181 first stage engines and a Northrop Grumman solid-propellant upper stage, will release the Cygnus cargo ship into a preliminary orbit about nine minutes after liftoff. The spacecraft then will deploy its two solar wings and set off after its quarry.

Trending News

The automated rendezvous is designed to bring the Cygnus to a point about 30 feet directly below the lab complex around 5:30 a.m. Friday morning. It then will hold position while astronaut Anne McClain, operating the station's robot arm, locks onto a grapple fixture.

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket stands poised for blastoff from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport – MARS – on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Perched atop the Antares is a Cygnus cargo ship loaded with 3.8 tons of supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station. NASA

From there, flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston will take over, remotely operating the arm to pull the supply ship in for berthing at the Earth-facing port of the central Unity module.

On board are 3.8 tons of equipment and supplies, including 2,065 pounds of crew food, clothing and other material, 3,459 pounds of research hardware, including the mouse habitat, 1,384 pounds of space station hardware and 140 pounds of spacewalk gear, computer equipment and other items.

In addition to the station-bound cargo, the second stage of the Antares also carried a small Cubesat and 63 even smaller satellites built by students representing more than 70 schools across nine states. The "ThinSats," each a little larger than a deck of cards, were equipped with relatively simple systems to measure aspects of the space environment before falling back into the atmosphere and burning up five to 10 days after release.

Data from the ThinSats, each one weighing about 10 ounces, will be relayed back to classrooms over the internet via radio links with Globalstar relay stations.

"If you can get these kids turned on, boy, you better step out of the road or they're going to run right over the top of you," said Bob Twiggs, professor of Astronautics and Space Science at Morehead State University and an enthusiastic leader of the drive to develop small, low-cost satellites for research and STEM initiatives.

"So doing something like this at a cost that you could get down to the elementary schools, I think is really great," he said.

Three slightly larger Cubesats will be deployed after the Cygnus departs the station in late July and another seven small satellites will be launched from the station through an airlock in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module.

The Antares-Cygnus flight comes just 13 days after launch of a Russian Progress supply ship from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. If all goes well, SpaceX will follow Northrop Grumman with launch of a Falcon 9 rocket April 26 to send a Dragon cargo ship to the station from Cape Canaveral.

First published on April 17, 2019 / 1:32 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

William Harwood

Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia."

041719-ng11.jpg

CDC warns of salmonella outbreak linked to raw tuna

"Consumers who order sushi made with raw tuna, including 'spicy tuna,' from a restaurant or grocery store should ask if the tuna is supplied by Jensen Tuna," the CDC says

4M ago

NYC considers ban on fur

Supporters say fur garments are inhumane, but opponents say the ban will cost 1,100 jobs.

updated 4M ago 01:11

Notre Dame coach says gender equality "starts with hiring women"

The basketball Hall of Famer made headlines earlier this month for her impassioned plea that goes far beyond sports

34M ago

Ocasio-Cortez comments on college admissions scandal

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed to Felicity Huffman's expected 4 to 10 months in jail as an example of lenient treatment for wealthy people

41M ago

Mitch McConnell officially launches re-election campaign

McConnell's campaign released an ad highlighting his ties to President Trump and Supreme Court confirmations

1H ago

Ocasio-Cortez comments on college admissions scandal

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed to Felicity Huffman's expected 4 to 10 months in jail as an example of lenient treatment for wealthy people

41M ago

Mitch McConnell officially launches re-election campaign

McConnell's campaign released an ad highlighting his ties to President Trump and Supreme Court confirmations

1H ago

What you won't see in the Mueller report

The special counsel's Trump-Russia report will be out on Thursday for all to see — but not all of it

1H ago

U.S. allowing lawsuits over properties seized by Castro's Cuba

The major policy has angered European and other allies

2H ago

Pete Buttigieg takes on hecklers in Iowa

"Coffee after church gets a little rowdy sometimes," Buttigieg joked about one protester shouting during an Iowa campaign stop

2H ago

Dozens investigating cause of massive Notre Dame fire

Authorities in Paris trying to piece together exactly what happened before Notre Dame Cathedral was devastated by fire

updated 5M ago

U.S. allowing lawsuits over properties seized by Castro's Cuba

The major policy has angered European and other allies

2H ago

Assange smeared his feces on Ecuadorian embassy's walls, president says

"He did not behave the way an asylee should, with respect for the country that has warmly welcomed him," Lenin Moreno said

2H ago

Peru's former president fatally shoots himself in head before arrest

Former Peruvian President Alan García shot himself moments after police attempted to detain him amid corruption allegations in Latin America's largest graft probe

updated 34M ago

Video game "Assassin's Creed" could help in Notre Dame's restoration

The restoration could also benefit from the work of a Vassar professor who used laser technology to create an intricate reconstruction of the cathedral

4H ago

Notre Dame coach says gender equality "starts with hiring women"

The basketball Hall of Famer made headlines earlier this month for her impassioned plea that goes far beyond sports

34M ago

"Star Trek: Discovery" season finale

The second season of "Star Trek: Discovery" will come to an end Thursday night on CBS All Access. Keisha Hatchett, associate editor at TV Guide, joined CBSN to talk about some of the key questions that will get answered in the season finale.

updated 44M ago 03:08

Hollywood elite donate to 2020 Democrats

Campaign finance reports offer a glimpse of who is drawing attention from the entertainment industry in the early stages of the race

5H ago

Gayle King honored with Time 100 cover: "I am so humbled"

Choking up with emotion, King said she was "so touched" to read Ava DuVernay's tribute to her

5H ago

Cops use music to unite a city

After gaining notoriety singing inside a Buffalo restaurant, police officers Michael Norwood and Moe Badger became Internet sensations with their music. By using their partnership to connect with the community, they started a program called "COPSS" — for children overcoming police stereotypes through sports. Jeff Glor reports.

2H ago 02:40

Your old tax returns could be on sale for $1.04

Identity theft has never been this cheap—you can buy anything from old tax returns to bank accounts on the dark web

updated 56M ago

Apple & Qualcomm reach settlement

Apple and mobile chip maker Qualcomm have settled a bitter financial dispute centered on some of the technology that enables iPhones to connect to the internet.

17H ago 00:26

Selfie leads to two women's deaths

The pursuit of the perfect picture cost two women their lives last weekend. Both were college students taking photos at dangerous heights. Janet Shamlian reports.

2H ago 01:41

U.S. intelligence faces reckoning after 2016 failures

"The trends it reflects warrant a wholesale reimagining of how the intelligence community operates," Michael Morell and Amy Zegart wrote in an essay in Foreign Affairs

19H ago

Qualcomm stock soars 23% on news it settled billion-dollar dispute with Apple

Apple and chip maker Qualcomm end bitter legal fight over technology that enables iPhones to connect to the internet

17H ago

Rocket launching with cargo for space station

Loaded with 3.8 tons of supplies and equipment, the Cygnus cargo ship will need two days to reach the space station

9M ago

3D-printed heart a potential breakthrough in making human organs

Not only are the cells alive, but all of the different cell types in the heart came from a single human donor

Apr 15

Scientists say they 3D-printed artificial heart

There has been a potential breakthrough in making organs in the lab. Israeli researchers have 3D printed a heart, complete with muscle and blood vessels.

Apr 16 00:55

Climate change protests stop traffic in heart of London

"Brexit, none of it's going to matter if there's a climate apocalypse," a demonstrator says

Apr 15

Last known female of world's rare turtle dies in China zoo

Yangtze giant softshell turtle was about 90 years old, but scientists tried again for artificial insemination shortly before her death

Apr 15

CDC warns of salmonella outbreak linked to raw tuna

"Consumers who order sushi made with raw tuna, including 'spicy tuna,' from a restaurant or grocery store should ask if the tuna is supplied by Jensen Tuna," the CDC says

4M ago

NY county issues new order in measles outbreak

The rapid spread of measles is prompting newer and stronger measures from health officials across the country. The CDC says the number of cases has grown to 555 in 20 states. Rockland County, New York, is among the hardest-hit areas, with 186 cases since October. Mola Lenghi reports.

5H ago 03:42

Drug 100 times more potent than fentanyl

Officials in San Diego County have issued an alert after three people suffered fatal overdoses from a drug called carfentanil, which is many times more potent than the powerful opioid fentanyl, KOVR-TV reports.

4H ago 01:31

Chips Ahoy cookies recalled due to "unexpected" ingredient

Some consumers have reported gagging, choking or dental injury related to the product, according to food giant Mondelez

15H ago

Selfie leads to two women's deaths

The pursuit of the perfect picture cost two women their lives last weekend. Both were college students taking photos at dangerous heights. Janet Shamlian reports.

2H ago 01:41

Your old tax returns could be on sale for $1.04

Identity theft has never been this cheap—you can buy anything from old tax returns to bank accounts on the dark web

updated 56M ago

Secret to "best fitted" men's button-down shirt? It doesn't button

A traffic ticket in Bangkok led this entrepreneur to create a slim-fit men's shirt unlike any other button down on the market

2H ago

Chips Ahoy cookies recalled due to "unexpected" ingredient

Some consumers have reported gagging, choking or dental injury related to the product, according to food giant Mondelez

15H ago

The U.S. economy may not be feeling frisky, but stocks are

Financial markets are nearing all-time highs even as economic growth cools and corporate earnings sag — here's why

6H ago

MoneyWatch headlines: Apple & Qualcomm settle

Qualcomm's stock jumped after a surprise settlement with Apple, and T-Mobile's merger with Sprint could be in jeopardy. These headlines and more from CBS MoneyWatch.

1H ago 01:19

Woman sought after alleged Columbine school threats is dead

The alleged threats led to the closure of school for more than half a million students on Colorado's Front Range Wednesday

updated 6M ago

"Rock Doc" among dozens charged in 11-state opioid sting

53 medical professionals, including one accused of trading pills for sex, allegedly participated in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids and other narcotics

1H ago

Your old tax returns could be on sale for $1.04

Identity theft has never been this cheap—you can buy anything from old tax returns to bank accounts on the dark web

updated 56M ago

"Massive" search for woman with gun who threatened Columbine

Denver-area schools closed as authorities seek 18-year-old who they say is "infatuated" with the shooting at Columbine High 20 years ago

2H ago

Feds could seek up to 10 months in jail for Felicity Huffman

Huffman was among 13 parents who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud

18H ago

Rocket launching with cargo for space station

Loaded with 3.8 tons of supplies and equipment, the Cygnus cargo ship will need two days to reach the space station

9M ago

Researchers reveal changes to astronaut's body

Retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days in space during an extended stay aboard the International Space Station in 2015-16, did not suffer any major long-term health effects that might raise warning signs for future long-duration flights, scientists reported Thursday. CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood joins CBSN with details.

Apr 11 01:08

Israeli spacecraft fails to land on moon

CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood speaks to CBSN about the failed moon landing and Thursday's other headlines: SpaceX's second launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket and NASA's report that astronaut Scott Kelly experienced biological changes during his year-long orbit in space.

Apr 11 05:36

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket thunders into space

The second flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is carrying a Saudi communications satellite into orbit

Apr 11

Meet the 29-year-old who helped create the black hole image

Dr. Katie Bouman led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole

Apr 11

Photos: Fire burns Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

On April 15, 2019 flames erupted at the landmark cathedral, the most-visited landmark in the French capital

Apr 16 46 photos

Star Wars Celebration 2019

The four-day convention for fans of the Star Wars saga, held in Chicago, included cosplayers, panels with the filmmakers, and the debut of the trailer for Episode IX of the series

Apr 13 39 photos

Awkward Easter Bunny photos

Children love the Easter Bunny – until they meet him

Apr 12 35 photos

The folk art of Bill Traylor

Born into slavery, the self-taught painter who began his artistic life in his 80s is the focus of a retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Apr 7 24 photos

America's surprising food recalls

What's in your fridge? Just maybe salmonella, E. coli – and a dead bat?

Apr 5 36 photos

Popular

A new twist on the button-down

Bryan Davis, founder of Teddy Stratford, designs shirts that zip instead of button. In an effort to get rid of the "pec gap," Bryan reverse-engineered how to create the traditional button-down. In this small business spotlight, Bryan explains what inspired him to create the shirt and how selling online helps his brand.

3H ago 02:15

NYC considers ban on fur

Supporters say fur garments are inhumane, but opponents say the ban will cost 1,100 jobs.

updated 4M ago 01:11

Colorado school threat suspect is dead

Sol Pais, an 18-year-old woman accused of making threats toward Denver-area schools including Columbine High School, is dead. It wasn't immediately clear how she died. CBS News' Barry Petersen joined CBSN with the latest.

updated 10M ago 04:53

"Star Trek: Discovery" season finale

The second season of "Star Trek: Discovery" will come to an end Thursday night on CBS All Access. Keisha Hatchett, associate editor at TV Guide, joined CBSN to talk about some of the key questions that will get answered in the season finale.

updated 44M ago 03:08

(Un)Welcome: Sweden's rise of the right

In this installment of CBSN Originals’ ongoing examination at how migration is reshaping the world, Adam Yamaguchi travels to Sweden to examine how a record influx of migrants has coincided with the recently welcoming and politically progressive nation's swift shift to the right.

Apr 15 23:06

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here