An Experimental Cargo Ship Launched For the ISS Today

The first flight of the Cygnus, a new experimental spacecraft, lit off at 10:58AM today from NASA’s newly popular Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus is an unmanned cargo vessel, and for this test mission it’s carrying about 1,300 pounds of supplies to the three astronauts currently orbiting in the ISS.

The newly-designed Cygnus cargo ship is built by private spaceflight company Orbital Sciences, which was responsible for the first moon mission launched from Wallops Island earlier this month. Since this is the first Cygnus space mission it's considered a "test" flight, but the payload of food and supplies, including a care package with chocolates for American astronaut Karen Nyberg, is probably pretty important to its recipients.

Like the moon launch at the beginning of the month, this mission was visible to folks along the East Coast, with some great footage from those lucky enough to get close to the launch site:

The shipment should reach the ISS by Sunday, at which point it will be filled with trash from the orbiter and jettisoned to burn up in the atmosphere on its way back to Earth. [PopSci, ABC News]