Cygnus
NASA has completed an experiment in outer space with the intention of studying combustion under the effects of microgravity. In picture: Orbital ATK's Cygnus aircraft taking offtwitter.com/NASA

Orbital ATK's CRS Orb-4 was finally launched from the Space Launch Complex 41 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 6 December. The spacecraft was launched by the ULA-produced Atlas V rocket.

The Sunday launch was the fourth attempt in giving flight to the commercial cargo ship.

The Cygnus spacecraft is carrying 3,300 kg of food supplies, clothes, toiletries, spacewalking gear, air-supply tanks, science experiments and equipment to the International Space Station (ISS).

Last year's attempt to launch the CRS Orb-4 into space had failed, blowing up the rocket and damaging the launch pad in Wallops Island, Virginia. After that, it was decided that Atlas rocket would be used as it has an RD-180 engine reports Ars Technica.

The capsule is taking supplies to the Expedition 44 crew living in the ISS. Aboard the space station are six crew members, three from Russian Federal Space Agency (RSA) and two from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), one from Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA).

For Gennady Padalka, the commander from RSA, this is his fifth space flight. While this is US astronaut Scot Kelly's fourth. Kjell Lindgren, a NASA astronaut aboard, is preparing to return on 11 December.

The resupply vehicle will arrive at the ISS on 9 December.

RSA is scheduled to launch a similar supply vehicle near Christmas this year.

NASA also uses Elon Musk's SpaceX as a commercial cargo carrier. The attempt last year to launch the space vehicle had failed.

A launch in March is planned by Orbital, and another in May. SpaceX has a January launch planned.

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