Frozen treats, other supplies rocketing toward space station

November 12, 2017 by Marcia Dunn in Astronomy & Space / Space Exploration
Orbital ATK's Antares rocket lifts off from Wallops Island, Va., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. The rocket is carrying cargo to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A stash of frozen treats and other supplies rocketed toward the International Space Station on Sunday, this time from Virginia's cold eastern shore.

NASA's commercial shipper, Orbital ATK, launched the cargo ship just after sunrise from Wallops Island, aboard an unmanned Antares rocket.

The Cygnus capsule should reach the orbiting lab Tuesday. It's loaded with 7,400 pounds of cargo, including sweet treats for the six station astronauts. There are frozen fruit bars, ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches and cups of chocolate and vanilla ice cream—about 80 in all, according to NASA.

The crew expects pizza as well. Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli has been craving pizza for months.

"Pizza and on the way!" NASA astronaut Joe Acaba tweeted following liftoff. "Eagerly awaiting the arrival."

This marked Orbital ATK's first launch from its home turf in more than a year. The last time it made a delivery, it used another company's rocket flying from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Crowds gathered at Wallops in freezing temperatures and cheered as the rocket soared toward the southeast. Sunrise made it hard to see the launch farther afield. The field of visibility stretched from New England to the Carolinas.

Orbital ATK's Antares rocket lifts off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. The rocket is carrying cargo to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A launch attempt on Saturday was nixed after a plane strayed into the restricted airspace. Sunday's try was almost foiled by a couple of boats that briefly wandered into the keep-out zone.

Orbital ATK named the capsule after the last man to walk on the moon, Apollo 17's Gene Cernan, who died in January. During the final minutes of the countdown, a launch controller paid tribute to Cernan as well as J.R. Thompson, a high-ranking NASA and Orbital ATK official who died last week.

Frozen treats, other supplies rocketing toward space station
Orbital ATK's Antares rocket lifts off from Wallops Island, Va., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. The rocket is carrying cargo to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The capsule will remain at the space station until the beginning of December, when it's cut loose for a test of close proximity flying, a series of mini satellite deployments and, lastly, a fiery re-entry with a load of trash.

SpaceX is NASA's other prime supplier. It's next delivery is next month.

Orbital ATK's Antares rocket sits on the 0A launch pad moments before a scheduled launch at the NASA Wallops Island flight facility in Wallops Island, Va., Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. The launch of the rocket which is carrying cargo to the International Space Station was postponed due to aircraft in the area. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

This photo provided by NASA shows the Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. The supply run to the International Space Station has been delayed a day by a stray plane which flew into the restricted airspace prompting NASA's commercial shipper, Orbital ATK, to call off the liftoff. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

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"Frozen treats, other supplies rocketing toward space station" November 12, 2017 https://phys.org/news/2017-11-frozen-rocketing-space-station.html