ULA Atlas V final launch for 'golden voice' of NASA

ULA launch lifts off with 'John Glenn' cygnus spacecraft

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A cargo resupply mission launched Tuesday from the Space Coast was the last liftoff narrated by the "golden voice" of NASA after more than 30 years of commentary.

The United Launch Alliance liftoff was the swan song for George Diller, the well-known voice of countdowns at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Diller is retiring after 36 years.

Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft launched atop a ULA Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Atlas V lifted off on time to clear sky at 11:11 a.m. with no delays on launch day.

The cargo capsule will deliver more than 7,600 pounds of essentials to the astronauts living on the space station, along with science research and hardware for the orbiting laboratory.

George Diller, the of NASA for 36 years, retired after his final launch Tuesday, April 18, 2017.
George Diller, the of NASA for 36 years, retired after his final launch Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

After the launch, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana asked Diller what he thought of his last launch.

"I was trying to figure out last time I was out and saw one," Diller joked. The commentary veteran said he had a lot of fun during his time at NASA.

Diller's voice led the countdown to many space shuttle launches, including the final Atlantis launch in 2011, and the Hubble Space Telescope launch.

Cabana hailed Diller for his outstanding commentary during his carrier.

"We're really, really going to miss hearing your golden voice," Cabana said.

Cygnus is also carrying 38 CubeSats as part of the NanoRacks QB50 program.

Many of the experiments are led by students from more than 23 countries around the world, according to NASA.

The mission's OA-7 Cygnus capsule was named after former astronaut John Glenn, the first man to orbit Earth. Glenn died on Dec. 8.

Orbital ATK asked Glenn's widow, Annie, for permission to use his name for the spacecraft, following his death.

In a first for digital launch viewing options, NASA live streamed the launch to the International Space Station in 360 degrees.

A four fisheye-lens cameras was located at the periphery of the launch pad, about 300 feet from the rocket. A computer in a blast-proof box will stitch together the images for a full, in-the-round view. There will be about a minute lag time.

The launch was streamed on NASA's YouTube channel.

[MAP: Where to watch rocket launches on the Space Coast]

The Atlas V launch was delayed from March 24 after a hydraulic issue was discovered on ground support equipment. ULA has resolved the issue, NASA said.

The cargo resupply mission launched Tuesday kicked off a busy period of traffic for the International Space Station.

Three space station crew members, Sergey Ryzhikov, Andrey Borisenko and Shane Kimbroug, returned to Earth Monday in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Roscosmos is set to launch new crew members, Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Jack Fischeron, on April 20 to the Space Station.

No date is set for the next cargo resupply mission, CRS-11 by SpaceX.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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