Fresh supplies and new science experiments were sent to the International Space Station Tuesday aboard the Atlas V rocket.
The rocket, a 188-foot structure that launched on Tuesday, is operated by the United Space Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The rocket will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It will take three days to reach the space station, where at present American and Russian astronauts are working.
According to the Detroit News, almost 8,000 pounds of food, equipment and material for scientific research for NASA, which includes a commercial quality 3D printer and experimental robotic grippers, have been packed into the Orbital ATK’s Cygnus capsule. Also included is a fire experiment that will remain on the Cygnus.
The capsule is one of only two space vehicles used to send supplies to the International Space Station. In the last one and a half years, rocket failures have caused failures in the delivery of supplies.
“It’s like Christmas when a supply craft arrives,” former astronaut Dan Tani, who is the senior director of mission cargo and operations for Orbital, said. “It’s always fun to watch another vehicle approach, and then it’s like opening a box of goodies and finding some stuff you’ve been wanting and some surprises you didn’t know about.”
The Christian Science Monitor reports that the most recent delivery of supplies through Cygnus is among the 10 packages that NASA paid Orbital $2.6 billion for to deliver to the space station through 2018. Orbital and SpaceX have been delivering supplies to the space station since NASA’s Space Shuttle program came to a close in 2011.
SpaceX’s Dragon cargo carrier is scheduled to be launched on April 8. With its last delivery that was destroyed in June, this will mark the first time Cygnus and Dragon will orbit the outpost at the same time.