Rockets in China, Russia, USA stand ready for space station missions

Space station supply ship at launch pad honors John Glenn

Takeoff is scheduled for 11:11AM ET today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, though the Atlas V can take off anytime until 11:41AM ET.

At 12:40 p.m., coverage of the Orbital ATK Cygnus solar array deployment will begin, followed by a post-launch press conference with mission managers at 2 p.m.

Orbital ATK developed the Cygnus advanced maneuvering spacecraft to perform ISS cargo delivery missions under the Commercial Resupply Service contract with NASA.

After the launch, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana asked Diller what he thought of his last launch. "We're comfortable going either way", he said.

Some of the more interesting cargo includes 38 small satellites called CubeSats built by students for various research projects.

Numerous experiments are led by students from more than 23 countries around the world, according to NASA.

The Cygnus spacecraft is named S.S. John Glenn after legendary Marine, astronaut and Senator John Glenn who died in December.

Orbital ATK asked Glenn's widow, Annie, for permission to use his name for the spacecraft, following his death. Those looking to watch the mission live will get an extra special treat this time around: the launch will be the first one to ever be live-streamed in 360 degrees. Four fisheye-lens cameras are located at the pad, about 300 feet from the rocket. There will be about a minute lag time. Preliminary results from a study of astronaut twins, however, show the telomeres of former astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent almost a year aboard the station in 2015 and 2016, actually lengthened during his time in orbit, the opposite of what was expected. The flight was initially slated for March but delayed due to issues of hydraulics and ground equipment.

"While in space, after traveling a safe distance from the station, the fire is lit and data is collected before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere", NASA said in a statement.

The crew aboard the International Space Station will be getting a visitor pretty soon in the form of an automated cargo ship.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin are scheduled for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:13 a.m. EDT/0713 GMT on Thursday, docking at the station about six hours later.

No date is set for the next cargo resupply mission, CRS-11 by SpaceX.

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