NASA and UCF will take one giant leap toward asteroid mining tonight at 11:05 p.m with the launch of Atlas V in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Atlas V is carrying a lot more than just the hope for potential resource-gathering, as it carries five experiments to the International Space Station designed to test how microgravity affects specific elements.
One of those experiments is Strata-1, the only experiment to be entirely crafted by a team of UCF professors and undergraduate students.
The UCF team hopes that Strata-1 will be able to study how microgravity affects the movement of any dust or soil that covers rocks or asteroids. Strata-1 is packed with tubes of varying sizes all containing a mixture of those ingredients. The regolith — the dust or soil that settles on rocks, will be studied for a year.
Strata-1's 10-month long journey from idea to creation culminates tonight. Please check back for live updates provided by Gabby Baquero, who is attending tonight's launch.
Atlas V, which is carrying the Strata-1 science experiment and supplies to the International Space Station, will be launching from Cape Canaveral at 11:05 pm.
OA-6 Cygnus spacecraft has been named the S.S. Rick husband in honor of the late Rick Douglas Husband, who was the commander of the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-107.
The mission profile of the Atlas V launch is depicted in this image shared by NASA's twitter account.
Weather briefing is "100 percent go." Perfect for the launch.
Payload of the rocket, (the top), is 194 feet tall.
The Atlas V booster is 106 feet in length.
The Cygnus module is 21 feet in length, 10 feet in diameter and is holding 7,500 pounds.
No interference is expected from solar radiation.
T-10 minutes until launch.
All checks for electrical systems, facilities, flight control, and other essentials are a go. They are clear to proceed and they have permission to launch.
Countdown to launch is T-minus 2 minutes.
Countdown to launch is T-minus 30 seconds.
We have liftoff.
Stage separation looks successful thus far.
Full mission success of Atlas V launch will not be known until 21 minutes from departure.
All internal systems are operating well and in expected range. We are 15 minutes and 30 seconds into the flight. Cygnus module will separate 21 minutes into the flight.
Cygnus spacecraft has successfully separated from Centaur, the upper stage of the rocket, and the Cygnus spacecraft is now flying solo.
Gabby Baquero is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Gabby_Baquero or email her at MariaB@centralfloridafuture.com
Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @thealissasmith or email her at AlissaS@centralfloridafuture.com.