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Rocket blasts off with supplies for International Space Station

After three days of delays due to bad weather, a Cygnus cargo ship with supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) has blasted off from Cape Canaveral. It is due to arrive at its destination on Wednesday.

The commercial Atlas V rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Sunday after the scheduled launch had been delayed for three days because of high winds and rain on the east coast of Florida. The launch marks a successful restoration of US supply flights following accidents last year.

The Cygnus capsule being carried by the rocket is due to arrive at the ISS on Wednesday. It has more than 3,500 kilos of food, clothing, computer gear, spacewalk equipment, science experiments and other supplies for the research laboratory circling 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth.

"Liftoff, on the shoulders of Atlas," NASA spokesman Mike Curie said as the unmanned spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral. Astronauts will use a robotic arm to grapple the spacecraft at around 1110 UTC on Wednesday, NASA said.

The ISS is also supplied by deliveries from Russia, Japan and Europe.

The US's NASA agency has given commercial aerospace companies the contracts to supply the ISS. The companies, Orbital ATK and SpaceX, are the only two US enterprises that can send spacecraft to the station.

Deliveries have been interrupted by accidents. In October 2014, an Orbital Antares rocket packed with thousands of pounds of supplies exploded seconds after takeoff. A Russian Progress ship was also lost after launch in April.

NASA aims to keep a six-month supply of food aboard the ISS. That cushion is currently down to four months.

jm/nm (AP, Reuters)

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