Orbital ATK

The Orbital ATK Cygnus "Rick Husband" space cargo ship blasting off atop an Atlas V rocket (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral. After about twenty minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and was placed on its route. It’s in its fifth official mission, called Orbital-6 or simply Orb-6 but also CRS OA-6, of supply transport to the International Space Station for NASA.

Artistic concept of the Dream Chaser Cargo System docked with the International Space Station (Image courtesy Sierra Nevada Corporation. All rights reserved)

NASA announced the companies selected for the new contracts for cargo transport to the International Space Station. This is the second selection so the agency calls them CRS-2 (Commercial Resupply Services 2) and concern the transport of supplies as well as the disposal of waste or otherwise of what is no longer needed and the transport of cargo from the Station to return it to NASA. This time the agency selected three companies reneweing the contracts with SpaceX and Orbital ATK and also selecting Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft blasting off atop an Atlas V rocket starting its Orb-4 mission (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral. After about twenty minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and got in route. This is its fourth official mission, Orbital-4 or simply Orb-4 as well as CRS OA-4, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA.

The Orbital ATK spacecraft Cygnus during its Orb-1 mission and the SpaceX spacecraft Dragon during its CRS-5 mission (Photo NASA)

A NASA spokesman announced that the agency decided to extend the CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) contract with SpaceX and Orbital ATK for transporting cargo to the International Space Station. The additional missions are planned for 2017 and are intended to cover NASA’s needs until the new contract, called CRS 2, will be awarded. This extension provides three more missions for SpaceX spacecraft Dragon and another mission for the Orbital ATK spacecraft Cygnus.