Updated Antares rocket launched to ISS two years after explosion

NASA TVLaunch of the Antares rocket on its return to flight to the International Space Station

The safe launch also gave NASA another option to resupply the space station since SpaceX, Orbital ATK's commercial space company rival, experienced its own explosion last month and is grounded while investigators determined what went wrong, the Post reported.

- NASA, through the private aerospace firm Orbital ATK, launched a rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station from the Wallops platform in Virginia, United States, which was closed for two years after the explosion of an earlier rocket.

The cargo aboard the Cygnus will support dozens of new and existing investigations as the Space Station crews of Expeditions 49 and 50 contribute to about 250 science and research studies. The launch should be visible along much of the East Coast, depending on the weather.

The last time an Antares rocket lifted off from Wallops Island was on October 28, 2014, when the booster exploded soon after its launch. This was the first launch aboard the newly configured Antares rocket.

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An exuberant Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., tweeted his emoji-filled congratulations to NASA and Orbital ATK: "Whoohoo!" That's because three astronauts are awaiting launch from Kazakhstan on Wednesday, which would get them to the space station on Friday.

The launch from Nasa's Wallops Flight Facility in Virgina was delayed by five minutes to allow engineers to perform extra checks. Those engines did their job this evening, getting Antares and Cygnus airborne before giving way to the second stage powered by the CASTOR 30XL engine.

"It's been a very hard two years, and I can't imagine what those of you in the Orbital team went through".

NASA's other commercial shipper, SpaceX, has made nine station deliveries since 2012, but is now grounded, pending an investigation into last month's rocket explosion during prelaunch testing at Cape Canaveral.

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This will be the sixth Cygnus to arrive at the orbiting outpost since 2013. "It was done right and that's the important thing".

The cargo ship is carrying food and supplies for the six-member astronaut crew in orbit, including science experiments to test the behavior of fire in space. Until then, NASA will keep flying its astronauts on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

The launch was scheduled for Sunday until a bad cable caused a delay. The company has also upgraded its Cygnus spacecraft to be able to carry more cargo to the station.

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