KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – This week’s blastoff of the ‘SS John Glenn’ Cygnus cargo freighter atop an Atlas V rocket on a critical mission delivering over 7000 pounds of science and gear to the International Space Station (ISS) yielded stellar imagery from all around the Florida Space Coast.
On the occasion of what amounts to a sentimental third journey to space for NASA astronaut John Glenn – the first American to orbit Earth – near perfect weather conditions enabled spectacular views of the lunchtime liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V carrying Orbital ATK’s commercial Cygnus supply ship named in honor of a true American hero.
The SS John Glenn blasted to orbit on time at 11:11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, April 18 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
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The cargo ship safely reached the station early Saturday morning.
The stunning launch events were captured by journalists and tourists gathered from across the globe.
Check out this expanding gallery of eyepopping photos and videos from several space journalist colleagues and friends and myself – for views you won’t see elsewhere.
Click back as the gallery grows !
Watch this truly magnificent and unique video from space journalist Jeff Seibert positioned at a Playalinda Beach on the Atlantic Ocean – as excited vacationers and space enthusiasts frolic together in the waves and sands of this public beach.
Video Caption: Launch of Orbital ATK OA-7 Cygnus cargo vessel viewed from Playalinda Beach, FL on April 18, 2017. An Atlas 5 rocket launching a Cygnus cargo vessel, the “S.S. John Glenn” to the ISS loaded with 7452 pounds of science equipment, experiments, consumables and spare parts. Credit: Jeff Seibert
Playalinda is located just north of NASA’s Launch Complex 39A and offers the closest and clearest possible views of Atlas rocket launches from only about 5 miles away.
Four days after liftoff the SS John Glenn finally arrived at the station as planned Saturday morning April 22 following a carefully choreographed series of thruster maneuvers this past week.
The private Cygnus resupply vessel is carrying nearly four tons of science and supplies crammed inside for the five person multinational Expedition 51 crew.
After reaching the vicinity of the space station overnight Saturday, Cygnus was successfully captured by astronaut crew members Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Expedition 51 Station Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA at 6:05 a.m. EDT using the space station’s 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) Canadian-built Canadarm2 robotic arm.
The SS John Glenn Cygnus vehicle counts as Orbital ATK’s seventh cargo delivery flight to the station.
The vehicle is also known alternatively as the Cygnus OA-7 or CRS-7 mission.
Cygnus OA-7 is loaded with 3459 kg (7626 pounds) of science experiments and hardware, crew supplies, spare parts, gear and station hardware to the orbital laboratory in support over 250 research experiments being conducted on board by the Expedition 51 and 52 crews. The total volumetric capacity of Cygnus exceeds 27 cubic meters.
The Orbital ATK SS John Glenn Cygnus is the 2nd US cargo ship to launch to the ISS this year following the SpaceX Dragon CRS-10 mission in February – as I reported here.
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite launch reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.