Photos: Ground crews load final cargo into Cygnus supply ship

Technicians working at launch pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia completed the final loading of cargo into Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus supply ship late Tuesday, and the Antares rocket was raised vertical again in preparation for Wednesday’s countdown.

Specialists removed the top of the Antares rocket’s payload shroud and opened the forward hatch to the Cygnus spacecraft Tuesday evening to load time-sensitive cargo into the supply ship. This mission is the first time Northrop Grumman has introduced the new capability to install equipment into the cargo craft’s pressurized module less than 24 hours before liftoff.

The items loaded Tuesday night included a habitat with 40 mice heading to the International Space Station to help researchers study how microgravity affects the animals’ immune system.

With the work complete, ground crews closed the hatch and placed the top of the payload fairing back on the rocket, then raised Antares vertical early Wednesday morning.

Liftoff of the 139-foot-tall (42.5-meter) Antares rocket is set for 4:46:07 p.m. EDT (2046:07 GMT).

See our Mission Status Center for updates on the countdown and launch.

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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