New Orbital ATK Cygnus launched to bring science equipment to ISS

Recent rocket launches like that of the Super Strypi in Hawaii have been met with accidents and failure, leading to the lost of valuable, not to mention expensive, equipment. So when Orbital ATK's enhanced Cygnus rocket launches successfully, carrying 7,000 lbs worth of scientific tools and machines, NASA and Orbital definitely have reason to rejoice. The rocket is headed to the ISS to deliver its scientific payload, along with other interesting gadgets, and hang around for a month before plummeting to its death back to Earth.

This isn't Orbital ATK's first launch rodeo. In fact, this is its fourth as part of its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. That said, there is still an aspect of novelty in this mission. This is the first time that a newly enhanced Cygnus spacecraft was launched. The rocket's cargo freighter has increased its holding capacity by 25%. It is also the first time that a Cygnus mission used the United Launch Alliance's (ULA) Atlas V launch system.

The Cygnus will deliver a wide variety of equipment for science and research investigations for ISS Expeditions 45 and 46. These include a Space Automated Bioproduct Lab for researching microorganisms like bacteria, yeast, and algae, the

NanoRacks-MicroSat-SIMPL, which will be the first microsatellite to be deployed from the ISS, and two CubeSat Node satellites sponsored by NASA and developed by the Ames Research Center, just to name a few.

One of the interesting other pieces of equipment that will be heading towards the ISS is a Microsoft HoloLens headgear, part of NASA's Sidekick project that was started back in June.