Science & Environment

Rocket carries US supplies to International Space Station

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifts off from launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Image copyright AP
Image caption The rocket launch was delayed by three days due to bad weather and high winds

A spacecraft carrying much-needed US supplies blasted off toward the International Space Station for the first time in months on Sunday.

The Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after three days of delays due to poor weather.

The Cygnus capsule, expected to arrive on Wednesday, will be the first US shipment to the station since April.

Supplies at the station are running low due to several botched rocket launches.

The capsule carries more than 3,500kg (7,700lb) of food, clothing, computer gear, spacewalk equipment, science experiments and other supplies.

The station currently only has four months' food supply aboard. Nasa aims to keep the supply cushion at six months.

"Santa is on his way!'" Tory Bruno, president of rocket maker United Launch Alliance, announced via Twitter.

The six space station astronauts managed to photograph the rising Cygnus from their windows as both craft made their way over the Atlantic.

"Caught something good on the horizon," commander Scott Kelly reported in a tweet.

Image copyright Twitter

Supplies at the station have been running low following several failed supplied runs.

The two private companies - Orbital ATK and SpaceX - contracted by Nasa to deliver supplies to the station, are both stuck with grounded rockets following launch accidents.

An Orbital rocket exploded on a supply run in October 2014, while SpaceX suffered a launch failure in June. Russia also lost a supply ship earlier this year.

Orbital bought another company's rocket, the veteran Atlas 5, for this supply mission.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The capsule carries 3,500kg of supplies

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