This is the 16th planned flight of the Orbital ATK's uncrewed resupply spacecraft Cygnus and its 15th flight to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. This Cygnus spacecraft is named after American astronaut Ellison Onizuka who died in the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
The International Space Station programme is tied together by a complex set of legal, political and financial agreements between the sixteen nations involved in the project, governing ownership of the various components, rights to crewing and utilization, and responsibilities for crew rotation and resupply of the International Space Station. It was conceived in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, during the Space Station Freedom project as it was originally called.
Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) are a series of flights awarded by NASA for the delivery of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station.The first CRS contracts were signed in 2008 and awarded $1.6 billion to SpaceX for twelve cargo Dragon and $1.9 billion to Orbital Sciences for eight Cygnus flights, covering deliveries to 2016. The Falcon 9 and Antares rockets were also developed under the CRS program to deliver cargo spacecraft to the ISS.