Orbital ATK's crewless Antares rocket launched on a supply mission to the International Space Station from Wallops Island, Virginia, five years ago after a devastating launch explosion in 2016.

NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia successfully launched the freshly improved Antares rocket into the night sky despite some delays, Space.com said. The Cygnus cargo spacecraft landed at the International Space Station six days later to provide food, supplies, and science experiments to the crew.

 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

Antares Returns To Space Industry in 2016 After Devastating Crash

Another Space.com report said the ATK Antares rocket successfully launched into orbit on October 17, 2016, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

The improved Antares rocket, topped with Orbital ATK's uncrewed Cygnus cargo spacecraft, launched into the night sky at 7:45 p.m. EDT that evening. The rocket's ascension was visible from as far north as Boston and south as central South Carolina, attracting millions of viewers throughout the US East Coast.

Antares turned southeast after liftoff on its journey to low-Earth orbit. Cygnus entered orbit about 9 minutes into the flight, carrying a load of 5,100 pounds (2,300 kilograms) of science experiments, gear, and other supplies for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Antares Rocket Launch Crash 2014: Here's What Happened

NASA had hired a commercial spaceflight business to deliver goods to the International Space Station, and the stakes were high for this mission. The previous effort by Orbital ATK, over two years ago, resulted in a devastating explosion only seconds after liftoff.

At NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, a commercial Antares rocket manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation detonated shortly after liftoff on October 28, 2014. Although no one was harmed, NASA lost a large number of supplies, including equipment and food for astronauts, in addition to the damage to the launch pad.

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According to Wired, science experiments made up about a third of the cargo (by weight), ranging from a student project examining how pea shoots would develop in zero gravity to a high-tech camera that would have been the first to watch meteors from space.

Meteor, a high-definition camera that would've been the first specialized equipment to observe meteor showers from the space station, was one of the research projects onboard.

Planet Labs' 26 Flock 1d spacecraft were also lost, which were supposed to join the 71 other Earth-imaging satellites already in orbit to establish a network of Earth-imaging satellites. Planetary Resources, an asteroid-mining firm, has its Akryd 3 aboard, a space telescope demonstration device meant to locate near-Earth asteroids.

NASA also lost its Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment, a tiny experimental satellite (10 cm X 10 cm X 30 cm) that was supposed to measure water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere to investigate the changing climate and environment.

Another endeavor was drain Brain, a medical experiment that employs a device worn around the neck to detect blood flow returning from the brain to the heart. Greater knowledge of blood flow in zero gravity might aid in treating astronauts who complain of headaches or other neurological problems. Experts may use the gadget to monitor blood flow in patients on Earth.

The majority of the experiments that went missing belonged to students from all around the country. From Houston's Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, one planned to investigate how pea shoots develop in space. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program could also have a set of 18 student projects. Astronauts would have studied microgravity's effects on seeds, Chia plants, houseflies, shrimp, and mosquito eggs. One research aimed to investigate how crystals develop in space, while another sought to determine which types of milk are more likely to deteriorate in microgravity.

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