Northrop Grumman Successfully Sends Cygnus Spacecraft to the International Space Station

Northrop Grumman Successfully Sends Cygnus Spacecraft to the International Space Station

On Saturday, Northrop Grumman launched the Cygnus Spacecraft SS Piers Sellers to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. The resupply mission sent over eight thousand pounds of science investigations, food and supplies, and other cargo to astronauts living and working on Station. 

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket lifts off from the pad and launches Cygnus to the ISS.
Credits: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil

The cargo spacecraft launched atop an Antares rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 11:40 a.m. CST this past Saturday, February 19th. Following the launch, Cygnus was on its way to the ISS and arrived early Monday at 3:35 a.m. CST.

A view of Cygnus at the International Space Station while Canadarm2 is deployed. Photo Credit: NASA

Once the spacecraft arrived NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari used Canadarm2 to capture and dock it to the Unity module for unloading. Now that SS Piers Sellers is docked to station the crew can begin unloading the over 250 science investigations that they will set up and conduct for the duration of their mission.

The eXposed Root On-Orbit Test System (XROOTS) investigation uses hydroponic plant system. Photo Credits: NASA

Some of the science and research investigations that have been highlighted by NASA include XROOTS, a hydroponic plant growth system, the MicroQuin 3D Tumor that will conduct research on breast and prostate cancer cells, and SoFIE which will improve fire safety in space.

Close up of the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA), an innovative prototype of a solar panel that rolls open in space like a tape measure and is more compact than current rigid panel designs. Photo Credit: NASA

Also, onboard Cygnus is critical station hardware and materials to be tested for potential use in future missions, including long-distance space missions. Some examples of these materials include the hardware for the ISS Roll-Out Solar Array, All Solid-State Li Ion Batteries from JAXA, and waste management system upgrades.

While Cygnus is attached to Station it will perform an engine reboost to aid in adjusting the ISS’s orbit. This capability is new to the Cygnus spacecraft, though it was tested during a previous resupply mission in 2018.

Cygnus is scheduled to stay on Station until May when it will be packed with trashed and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere during re-entry.

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