Editor's note: The launch of OA-7 has been delayed to Sunday, March 19. [Preview story: Private Cygnus Spacecraft to Launch NASA Cargo to Space Station Soon]
Orbital ATK's next Cygnus cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station for NASA will lift off on March 16, NASA officials said Tuesday (Jan. 10).
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the unmanned Cygnus spacecraft's OA-7 resupply mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
"Orbital ATK will launch Cygnus atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket for delivery of essential crew supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to astronauts aboard the International Space Station," NASA officials wrote in a statement. "The 30 minute launch window opens at 12:29 a.m. EDT."
In November, Orbital ATK announced that this upcoming Cygnus cargo mission would launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket — and not Orbital ATK's own Antares rocket — in order to maximize the amount of supplies delivered to the International Space Station, as well as maintain the company's launch schedule. Future Cygnus flights will launch on Orbital ATK's Antares rockets from the company's launch site on Wallops Island, Virginia.
Orbital ATK successfly returned its Antares rocket to flight on Oct. 17, nearly two years after a failed Cygnus launch in Oct. 2014. Between that Antares launch failure and the booster's return to flight, the company launched two Cygnus missions on Atlas V rockets, one December 2015 and the other in March 2016.
Orbital ATK is one of two private companies (SpaceX is the other) currently flying cargo resupply missions for NASA. OA-7 is the seventh of 10 delivery missions for NASA that Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch under its current contract.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.