Frozen treats, other supplies rocketing toward space station
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A stash of frozen treats and other supplies rocketed toward the International Space Station on Sunday, this time from Virginia’s cold eastern shore.
NASA’s commercial shipper, Orbital ATK, launched the cargo ship just after sunrise from Wallops Island, aboard an unmanned Antares rocket.
The Cygnus capsule should reach the orbiting lab Tuesday. It’s loaded with 7,400 pounds of cargo, including sweet treats for the six station astronauts. There are frozen fruit bars, ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches and cups of chocolate and vanilla ice cream — about 80 in all, according to NASA.
The crew expects pizza as well. Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli has been craving pizza for months.
“Pizza and ice cream on the way!” NASA astronaut Joe Acaba tweeted following liftoff. “Eagerly awaiting the arrival.”
This marked Orbital ATK’s first launch from its home turf in more than a year. The last time it made a space station delivery, it used another company’s rocket flying from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Crowds gathered at Wallops in freezing temperatures and cheered as the rocket soared toward the southeast. Sunrise made it hard to see the launch farther afield. The field of visibility stretched from New England to the Carolinas.
A launch attempt on Saturday was nixed after a plane strayed into the restricted airspace. Sunday’s try was almost foiled by a couple of boats that briefly wandered into the keep-out zone.
Orbital ATK named the capsule after the last man to walk on the moon, Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan, who died in January. During the final minutes of the countdown, a launch controller paid tribute to Cernan as well as J.R. Thompson, a high-ranking NASA and Orbital ATK official who died last week.
The capsule will remain at the space station until the beginning of December, when it’s cut loose for a test of close proximity flying, a series of mini satellite deployments and, lastly, a fiery re-entry with a load of trash.
SpaceX is NASA’s other prime supplier. It’s next station delivery is next month. AB