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.

Live updates:

10:17 p.m.

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.

10:19 p.m.

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.

10:24 p.m.

The mission profile of the Atlas V launch is depicted in this image shared by NASA's twitter account.

10:40 p.m.

Weather briefing is "100 percent go." Perfect for the launch.

10:46 p.m.

Payload of the rocket, (the top), is 194 feet tall.

10:48 p.m.

The Atlas V booster is 106 feet in length.

10:49 p.m.

The Cygnus module is 21 feet in length, 10 feet in diameter and is holding 7,500 pounds.

10:54 p.m.

No interference is expected from solar radiation.

10:55 p.m

T-10 minutes until launch.

10:58 p.m.

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.

11:03 p.m.

Countdown to launch is T-minus 2 minutes.

11:05 p.m.

Countdown to launch is T-minus 30 seconds.

We have liftoff.

11:10 p.m.

Stage separation looks successful thus far.

11:11 p.m

Full mission success of Atlas V launch will not be known until 21 minutes from departure.

11:20 p.m.

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.

11:27 p.m.

Cygnus spacecraft has successfully separated from Centaur, the upper stage of the rocket, and the Cygnus spacecraft is now flying solo.

11:44 p.m.


Gabby Baquero is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Gabby_Baquero or email her at

Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @thealissasmith or email her at

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