NASA's Antares Rocket Lifts Off for the ISS With Science Payload & Earth's "First Space Nation" (VIDEO)
The Antares rocket lifted the Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 3.3 tons of material for researchers at the ISS. This included 14 cubesats to study high speed optical transmission of data called the Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) project. One of the cubesats is planet Earth’s “first space nation” called Asgardia-1, a file server the size of a loaf of bread (image above), that will float in orbit containing the space nation's flag, a constitution, as well as the complete database of all its citizens, currently around 100,000.
Along with scientific equipment, the ISS lab will also receive samples of E.coli for their E. coli AntiMicrobial Satellite (EcAMSat) experiment. The mission is to investigate the effects and resistance of E.coli to antibiotics in space. E.coli is known to cause painful urinary tract infections in humans and researchers hope to understand what dosage of antibiotics is needed in space, given that the human immune response is weak in space’s microgravity, said NASA.
After delays caused by a stray plane flying near the launchpad at Nasa’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Orbital ATK, the company handling the launch, was able to successfully launch its Antares rocket towards the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, 12 November at 7.19am EST. The supplies will reach the ISS by 14 November. The cargo also includes Thanksgiving dinner for the six astronauts aboard the ISS as well as frozen fruit bars, ice cream, and pizza.
The Antares rocket will stay docked at the ISS for only a few weeks after which it will be loaded up with waste to bring back to Earth for disposal. After undocking from the ISS, the Cygnus spacecraft will fly to a higher altitude, release the cubesats from a dispenser on its exterior, and head back to Earth for re-entry.