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United Launch Alliance launched an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral that is headed towards the International Space Station. VPC

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The weather was perfect, system checks were "go" and at 11:05 p.m. Tuesday, the unmanned Cygnus spacecraft piggybacked on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket during a successful launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

George Diller, a NASA public affairs information specialist at Kennedy Space Center, said the Orbital ATK spacecraft's solar arrays successfully deployed, unfurled and were power-positive, making the resupply launch to the International Space Station a complete success. Without this crucial step, Cygnus likely would not have the power necessary for its trek.

This particular NASA launch’s success will bring smiles and cheers from a team of UCF professors and undergraduate students at UCF’s center for microgravity research who labored on a science experiment called Strata-1 for 10 months at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

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The Strata-1 experiment inside the Cygnus spacecraft is expected to arrive at the ISS on Saturday if all goes according to plan.

Cygnus is carrying four other science experiments, supplies, and food amounting to about 7,500 pounds.

Orbital ATK, NASA’s commercial partner, named this Cygnus spacecraft S.S Rick Husband, in honor of the late Rick Husband. Husband died in 2003 along with 6 other astronauts when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Something out of the ordinary that occurred during today’s Atlas V launch countdown were the weather conditions, with Air Force meteorologists saying there was a zero percent probability of violation. Centaur, the upper stage of the rocket, nailed the orbital parameters for planned trajectory before separating from the Cygnus spacecraft 21 minutes after launch.

“We’re looking forward to more missions in the near future, but we’ve still got some big tasks ahead of us tonight,” said former NASA astronaut Frank Culbertson in a post-launch press conference. “The team has already completed the unfurling of the solar arrays. Both of them unfurled completely and are producing power. We’re now managing the trajectory of the Cygnus SS Rick Husband spacecraft so that we can rendezvous with the space station early Saturday morning, East coast time. And of course, we’re looking forward to that and getting the Cygnus onboard."

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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

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