The Cygnus cargo ship launched atop a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from the Eastern coast of Virginia on Tuesday, August 10, which climbed away from the Atlantic Ocean to set off for the International Space Station.

According to a previous report from Science Times, Cygnus cargo ship carries more than four tons of food for the crew, fuel, and other supplies for the floating space laboratory.

 Cygnus Cargo Ship Launched to ISS Atop Northrop Grumman Antares Rocket from Virginia
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

Cygnus Cargo Ship on its Way to ISS

According to CBS News via MSN, the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket's two Russian-built RD-8181 first stage engines ignited at 6:01 pm EDT and pushed the rocket away from pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at the Wallops Island flight test facility of NASA.

The rocket's first stage powered its way through the thick atmosphere to an altitude of over 50 miles before it shuts down and falls, successfully sending the spacecraft into the plane of the space station's orbital altitude at just over 110 miles.

The mission is dubbed NG-16 mission, which is Northrop Grumman's 15th operational resupply launch to ISS since 2014, and now it is flying the fifth Antares rocket to fly in the more than 230+ configuration that allows for payloads to be loaded at a later time. The Cygnus cargo ship was released to fly on its own to the space station nine minutes after it was launched.

The team behind the resupply mission hopes everything to go well for the automated spacecraft, which is set to execute a series of carefully planned thruster firings to chase down the space station. It is expected to pull up within about 30 feet of the ISS at 6:10 am on Thursday, August 12. The news outlet reported that it would stand by for a moment as the space station's robotic arm pulls and puts it in for berthing.

Both Northrop Grumman and SpaceX built and launched uncrewed cargo resupply ships to the space station for NASA under contracts intended to provide future resupply missions.

Northrop Grumman's resupply contract has totalled $2.89 billion for 11 cargo resupply missions through 2019. The recent Cygnus cargo ship is the 5th among the eight additional missions under a follow-on contract that costs $3.1 billion.

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What is Cygnus Cargo Ship Carrying to ISS?

As Space.com reported, inside the Cygnus cargo ship are time-sensitive cargo items that include biological payloads and a brainless yellow slime mold named Blob that will be used to test how it can move, communicate, and feed itself in an environment with microgravity.

Furthermore, inside the cargo ship are also two different payloads that will look at human muscle cells in space; one was called the Cardinal muscle that will hopefully develop treatments for the muscle-wasting disease called sarcopenia, which is accounted for the 30% loss of skeletal muscle on Earth.

A team of scientists from Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research led by Ngan Huang of Stanford University thinks that growing muscle fibers in space will help them know whether these muscle fibers can be used as effective treatments for the disease.

The second muscle-related experiment is through a partnership between ASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), an anti-atrophy research investigation. This experiment aims to analyze muscle cells and treatments to an atrophy inhibitor called C-14 sequin and a muscle growth accelerator known as celestial.

But of course, like other resupply missions, Cygnus cargo ship also carries fresh fruit and menu food items for the crew in the ISS.

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Check out more news and information on NASA Resupply in Science Times.