The Falcon rocket blasted off Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On board were six advanced satellites for the New Jersey-based Orbcomm. Eleven more of these satellites are to be launched in the coming year.
The 374-pound satellites will offer two-way data links to help customers track, monitor and control transportation and logistics assets, heavy equipment, oil and gas infrastructure, ships and buoys, and government-owned equipment.
After launch, SpaceX will try to steer the Falcon 9's first stage to a soft landing in the Atlantic Ocean for recovery by ships, a step toward developing a reusable booster.
The launch had been delayed repeatedly since May for technical and other reasons.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. - or SpaceX - is also working to ferry space station cargo for NASA. The company is based in Hawthorne, California.
The SpaceX company has launched a rocket packed with communication satellites on Monday morning.
Space station cargo launches from Virginia
A commercial resupply ship is bound for the International Space Station after a successful launch over the weekend from Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Orbital Sciences Corp.'s 13-story Antares rocket blasted off from Wallops Island at 12:52 p.m. Sunday and delivered an unmanned Cygnus spacecraft packed with more than 3,300 pounds of food, equipment and experiments into orbit about 10 minutes later.
The station and its six-person Expedition 40 crew were flying 260 miles over northwest Australia at the time.
It was the fourth successful launch by the liquid- and solid-fueled Antares, which was developed under a NASA program that established new commercial vehicles to deliver cargo after the space shuttle's retirement in 2011.
The launch was delayed while Orbital investigated the failure of an AJ26 main engine during a test, to ensure this rocket's two main engines were healthy. They appeared to perform flawlessly.
The Cygnus – named in honor of the late NASA astronaut and Orbital employee Janice Voss, a five-time shuttle flyer – is expected to arrive at the ISS Wednesday morning for a 6:37 a.m. EDT capture by a 58-foot robotic arm controlled by Expedition 40 commander Steve Swanson.
Among the payloads inside the Cygnus pressurized module is a "flock" of 28 commercial imaging CubeSats developed by San Francisco-based Planet Labs, adding to the company's first flock of Dove satellites launched on the first contracted Cygnus mission in January. They'll be deployed in pairs from the ISS.
The Cygnus will stay attached to the station for 30 to 45 days, then depart full of trash toward a destructive reentry through the atmosphere.
The mission is Orbital's second of eight under a $1.9 billion NASA resupply contract.
Later this month, Europe's ATV freighter is scheduled to launch to the ISS for a fifth and final time. SpaceX's next station resupply launch from Cape Canaveral is tentatively planned Sept. 12.
KSC honors Armstrong
NASA in May renamed its Dryden Flight Research Center after the late Neil Armstrong, the world's first moonwalker.
This month, Kennedy Space Center will take a turn honoring the legendary astronaut by renaming one of its storied facilities, the Operations and Checkout building.
Built in 1964, the "O&C" was used to process and test the command, service and lunar modules for Apollo missions and continued to serve as astronauts' crew quarters. Shuttle astronauts suited up for flight there before departing for the launch pad.
Armstrong's Apollo 11 crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who launched from KSC 45 years ago on Wednesday atop a Saturn V rocket, will be on hand for a formal ceremony July 21.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and KSC Director bob Cabana, both former shuttle astronauts, also will make remarks.
New Falcon 9 flights deemed a success
SpaceX last week said the Air Force has confirmed that the company's first three flights of a new Falcon 9 rocket were a success.
That's a key milestone, but not the last step, in the company's effort to win Air Force certification that would allow it to compete with United Launch Alliance for launches of national security payloads.
SpaceX expects to meet the remaining certification requirements later this year. The process is continuing amid a lawsuit SpaceX filed alleging the Air Force improperly awarded ULA a 36-launch contract that will limit near-term opportunities for competition.
The Air Force has asked for the suit to be dismissed.
U.S. Rep. Bill Posey last week introduced with the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014, a bill that would establish property rights for future private asteroid miners.
Posey said the legislation introduced with Democrat Derek Kilmer of Washington State would promote private exploration and protect commercial rights.
"Asteroids are excellent potential sources of highly valuable resources and minerals," Posey, a member of the House Science, Space and Technology committee, said in a statement. "Our knowledge of asteroids — their number, location, and composition — has been increasing at a tremendous rate and space technology has advanced to the point where the private sector is now able to begin planning such expeditions."
Life on the ISS marks 5,000 days
Saturday marked the 5,000th consecutive day of humans living aboard the International Space Station, dating back to November 2000.
Some 1,600 experiments involving 1,500 scientific researchers from 82 countries have been completed during that time, NASA says.
"It's an amazing feat to be able to already have completed so much science," said Kirt Costello, NASA's assistant International Space Station Program scientist. "We have more wonderful discoveries to come."
Wanted: Private astronauts
Private space station developer Bigelow Aerospace has hired two former NASA astronauts, Space News reported last week.
Kenneth Ham and George Zamka each piloted or commanded two shuttle missions. Ham is leaving the U.S. Naval Academy's Aerospace Engineering Department, Zamka a position in the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.
North Las Vegas-based Bigelow hopes to finish building its first two BA330 inflatable station modules by 2017, according to the report. The company may hire more astronauts this year.
Senate to review RD-180 risks
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson this week will co-chair a joint hearing by Senate committees on discussing "Options for Assuring Domestic Space Access."
The hearing at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday "will consider the current state of the U.S. launch enterprise and the risks posed to U.S. space operations by relying on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine," according to a press release.
The RD-180 is a Russian-built engine used by United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket, the most frequent launcher of U.S. national security missions. Russian officials have threatened to cut off its supply for that purpose, prompting Congress to consider funding development of a new American rocket engine.
UCF students selected for program
A University of Central Florida student team was among 10 selected last week by NASA's Undergraduate Student Instrument Program to develop and fly a science payload on suborbital platforms including sounding rockets, balloons, aircraft, zero-g aircraft and suborbital reusable launch vehicles.
UCF's experiment, titled "Microgravity experiment on accretion in space environments," will fly on a parabolic aircraft. All the program's flights were expected by Spring 2015.
The Associated Press contributed to this report