Atlas V rocket lifts off for cargo mission to ISS

By Greg Pallone, Jerry Hume and Anthony Leone, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 10:10 PM EDT

The Atlas V rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station had a successful launch on Tuesday as thousands watched.

With the beautiful midday launch was a tribute to one of the men who helped usher in America's space program.

If ever a phrase stood out in space lore -- it would be "God Speed, John Glenn."

On Tuesday, the Atlas V rocket bolted off Pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

On board, an Orbital ATK cargo craft carried supplies and experiments bound for the International Space Station.

Dubbed the SS John Glenn, it's named for the first American who orbited the Earth, flew in a space shuttle and was a four-term U.S. senator.

He passed away last December at the age of 95.

"It's an honor to be associated with such a hero and American pioneer," said Frank Culbertson of Orbital ATK.

Glenn's three-orbit pioneering flight was on an Atlas rocket, so it's appropriate the cargo ship bearing his name be launched on a modern Atlas V.

"It's clearly one more chance to show John Glenn's name emblazoned in space," said Culbertson.

Soon the spacecraft will dock with the ISS, where the supplies will help those astronauts working and living there.

The Cygnus cargo craft is set to dock with the ISS Saturday around 6 a.m.

360 degree launch video fails

For the first time, NASA tried to broadcast a live, 360-degree view of a rocket launch. United Launch Alliance has released 360-degree video of two previous launches, but later, not live.

And it worked just fine — until a few moments before the launch, when it froze up for the thousands watching. And although people were able to get every view of the launch from the launch pad, when it came time to actually see the liftoff, the camera froze.

On the replay of the 360-degree video, the rocket appears one moment, and the next, it's gone. According to an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student, the vibrations from the rocket caused the live stream to cut out.

However, the launch itself was a success, especially for those who got to watch it in person.

The rocket, carrying Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft with supplies, should make it to the ISS by Saturday.

An Orbital ATK worker said he was happy the launch happened Tuesday.

“We may be a little bit late, but we’re happy to be coming Easter week and to see the excitement on the face of the astronauts,” Orbital ATK’s Frank Culbertson said.

The cargo capsule is carrying more than 7,600 pounds of food, supplies and science experiments. Those experiments will look at how microgravity could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment.

Another experiment, the Advanced Plant Habitat, will grow fresh food in space.

“This will be the largest ever food production, plant production capability on the International Space Station,” NASA scientist Tara Ruttley said.

ULA delayed the launch because of technical issues.

“We had two hydraulic issues we had to work on,” ULA’s Vern Thorp said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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