An Atlas V 401 successfully launched the Cygnus OA-7 (John Glenn) cargo spacecraft on its way to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) on behalf of NASA. The launch took place at 1511 GMT on 18 April 2017 from the Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida, USA.

Atlas V 401 flies Cygnus OA-7 (John Glenn) into orbit. Courtesy: ULA

The Cygnus OA-7 spacecraft, which was given name of John Glenn, honouring the recently deceased first US astronaut to orbit the Earth, was carrying circa 3.5 metric tons of food and supplies for the space station. The launch was part of a contract with NASA to deliver cargo to the ISS.

In addition to the main spacecraft were an extra 38 small cubesats, most of which were being carried to the ISS so that they can be later dispensed into orbit from there. The only exceptions were four weather monitoring Lemur craft which will be deployed directly by the Cygnus OA-7 craft following its departure from the ISS after its cargo delivery mission is over.

After its original Antares rocket was stood down after a launch failure, Orbital ATK found itself with a NASA Commercial Resupply Services cargo contract to serve with its Cygnus cargo craft, but no rockets to launch them with. And so it approached the United Launch Alliance (ULA) ULA thus provided Orbital ATK with two original Atlas V launches, to which a third was later added. This was the third and last of these flights. The next Cygnus craft, the Cygnus OA-8 will be flown by a new re-engined version of the Antares launch vehicle. The Cygnus OA-6 cargo craft has already been flown in this way.

Cygnus OA-7 (John Glenn) makes its final approach to its grappling location. Courtesy: NASATV

Updated on 24 April 2017:  Cygnus OA-7 was successfully captured/grappled at 1002 GMT on 22 the International Space Station’s Canadarm 2 robot arm under the control of ESA astronaut Thomas Presquet,   The robot arm, this time under ground control, was then used to move the freighter to its berthing port on the Unity module.  The bolts to lock the freighter in position were driven home at 1239 GMT.