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Jan 09, 2014 03:20 PM EST

Orbital Sciences Launch Better Late Than Never; Supplies, Food and Christmas Presents En Route to ISS


A day after space weather delayed their launch, Orbital Sciences has successfully sent its Cygnus spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) on a re-supply mission.

According to CBS News, the Antares rocket pushed the craft into orbit and the company's first ISS mission is a success so far. The mission is the fist of seven planned commercial restocking trips in 2014, with Orbital still having two more and SpaceX set to accomplish four.

"We're posturing ourselves to hit our stride with all of our new commercial cargo vehicles in the 2014 time period," Dan Hartman, NASA's deputy space station program manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, told CBS News. "Orb-1 will be the first, we'll get into some SpaceX, and basically kind of alternate back and forth between Orbital and SpaceX throughout the year. So we're really looking to hit our stride in 2014 to meet our (resupply) needs."

Space.com previously reported the launch, initially set for Wednesday, had to be delayed due to a solar flare on Tuesday. The space weather event left too much radiation in the atmosphere to proceed. Even though the Cygnus spacecraft is designed to withstand such radiation and although the ISS crewmembers were never in danger, the Antares rocket may have been left vulnerable.

According to the Associated Press, the space capsule is packed with 3,000 pounds of equipment. Also in the capsule is food, ants for an educational experiment and Christmas presents for the six ISS crewmembers.

The decision to launch Thursday was made late Wednesday, CBS News reported, when mission managers deemed the atmosphere completely safe for travel.

"This will be the first of three contracted cargo delivery missions for us this year," Frank Culbertson, a former space shuttle commander and executive vice president of Orbital Sciences, said earlier this week. "We plan to also launch one in May and another in October if the schedule holds. At the end of the year, we will have delivered approximately 5,500 kilograms (12,125 pounds) of cargo to the space station commercially."

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