Cygnus arrives at house station with meals, experiments and cache of CubeSats – Spaceflight Now


The Cygnus provide ship on ultimate strategy to the International Space Station on Tuesday. Credit: NASA/Randy Bresnik

A business cargo craft owned and operated by Orbital ATK wrapped up a two-day journey to the International Space Station on Tuesday, delivering ice cream and pizza for the lab’s six-person crew and for a slew of badysis experiments, together with CubeSats slated for orbital deployments within the coming weeks.

Guided by GPS and laser navigation sensors, the Cygnus provide ship approached the house station from beneath, pausing at a number of pre-planned maintain factors for astronauts and floor controllers to verify the progress of the rendezvous.

After it reached a ultimate maintain level round 30 ft, or 10 meters, from the orbiting complicated, astronaut Paolo Nespoli took management of the station’s 58-foot-long (17-meter) Canadian-built robotic arm to grapple the Cygnus spaceship at 5:04 a.m. EST (1004 GMT) because the automobiles sailed 260 miles (418 kilometers) over the southeastern Indian Ocean.

Ground controllers commanded the robotic arm to position the Cygnus provide service on the Unity module’s Earth-facing berthing mechanism a number of hours later. Sixteen bolts drove closed in 4 steps to firmly join the newly-arrived cargo craft with the house station.

The automated arrival got here two days after the Cygnus resupply vessel lifted off Sunday from a launch pad on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, driving an Orbital ATK Antares rocket into orbit to kick off its orbital pursuit of the house station.

Astronauts opened hatches main into the Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module later Tuesday, a day sooner than deliberate.

Crew members will unload 7,118 kilos (three,229 kilograms) of cargo from the Cygnus spacecraft’s pressurized module starting Wednesday. The provide cargo consists of:

  • 2,734 kilos (1,240 kilograms) of crew provides
  • 1,631 kilos (740 kilograms) of science investigations
  • 291 kilos (132 kilograms) of spacewalk tools
  • 1,875 kilos (851 kilograms) of auto
  • 75 kilos (34 kilograms) of laptop badets

Fresh fruit and greens are among the many goodies driving inside a fridge on Cygnus spacecraft.

“The crew is going to get some treats when they open up the hatch,” mentioned Dan Hartman, NASA’s deputy house station program supervisor, earlier than the launch.

The Cygnus provide ship approaches the International Space Station on Tuesday. Credit: NASA/Randy Bresnik

The station’s 4 astronauts residing and dealing within the U.S. phase of the outpost will get to work on experiments carried within the Cygnus. For the primary time, they may also relocate some badysis already on the station right into a rack contained in the Cygnus cargo module, utilizing the power as a brief badysis base.

Among the scientific provides delivered to the station Tuesday have been fuel bottles to help a sophisticated combustion microgravity experiment, a habitat for badysis rodents launching on a future mission, and objects for a 3D printer aboard the orbiting laboratory, in response to Camille Alleyne, affiliate house station program scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Two CubeSats might be transferred contained in the house station to hitch three others for launch into orbit via the Japanese lab module’s airlock.

One of the CubeSats is called the E. Coli Antimicrobial Satellite, or EcAMSat, is in regards to the measurement of a small briefcase. Developed by engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center and scientists at Stanford University, EcAMSat will research the antibiotic resistance in house of E. coli, a bacterial pathogen liable for urinary tract an infection in people and animals.

EcAMSat’s mission is anticipated to final greater than a yr, and two varieties of E. coli cells — a wild and a mutant pressure — contained in 48 microfluidic wells contained in the CubeSat’s miniature laboratory might be activated, grown and examined as soon as the 23-pound (10-kilogram) satellite tv for pc is ejected from the station’s Japanese robotic arm, in response to Stevan Spremo, EcAMSat’s mission supervisor.

“With this, we believe that we’ll learn more about antibiotic resistance in the microgravity environment, where E. coli are known to grow more virulently in space,” Spremo mentioned.

The outcomes might badist defend astronauts on future house missions and develop countermeasures which may be helpful for people on Earth, he mentioned.

The different small spacecraft carried on the OA-Eight mission and destined for deployment via the Kibo airlock is TechEdSat 6, one other experimental CubeSat from the Ames Research Center in partnership with San Jose State University and the University of Idaho.

Artist’s idea of the TechEdSat 6 spacecraft. Credit: NASA

TechEdSat 6 is the newest in a sequence of CubeSats testing an “exo-brake” de-orbit system, a drag system that makes use of aerodynamic forces — and never propulsion — to re-enter the environment. The know-how might finally enable some house station badysis samples to return to Earth sooner, and at much less expense.

Station astronauts will repack the Cygnus spacecraft’s Italian-built logistics module with trash earlier than closing hatches and detaching the provision ship from the Unity module with the robotic arm Dec. three.

Mission management will maneuver the Cygnus a number of ft from one other berthing port on the station’s Harmony module, the place crew capsules from Boeing and SpaceX are anticipated to dock as soon as they’re prepared to start flying astronauts into orbit.

Engineers will use the Cygnus spacecraft to simulate the presence of a business crew craft at Harmony’s space-facing port and verify to make sure it doesn’t block GPS navigation indicators from reaching the house station.

Once these exams are completed, the robotic arm will launch Cygnus on Dec. four, and Orbital ATK’s floor staff will ship instructions to boost the ship’s orbit to an altitude of round 300 miles (500 kilometers).

In that orbit, Cygnus will deploy 14 extra CubeSats — ranging in measurement from a Rubik’s Cube to a loaf of bread — from an exterior system supplied by NanoRacks, a Houston-based firm that gives small satellite tv for pc deployments on house station cargo flights.

“OA-8 is yet another unique mission for NanoRacks,” mentioned Henry Martin, NanoRacks’ senior mission supervisor. “We’re thrilled to have a full external Cygnus deployer, displaying its maximum capability. This mission also brings new customers from outside the industry into space while continuing partnerships with existing customers like Spire for their ongoing satellite constellation. Notably, this mission will also deploy our first-ever propulsive satellite from the Cygnus spacecraft.”

One of Spire’s Lemur satellites. Credit: Spaceflight

Eight of the CubeSats will be a part of Spire Global’s business climate satellite tv for pc community, which derives humidity and temperature profiles by measuring GPS navigation indicators pbading via Earth’s environment.

Two AeroCube satellites badembled by the Aerospace Corp. for NASA’s Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration, or OCSD, mission will take a look at high-speed laser communications and an revolutionary water-based propulsion system to maneuver in shut proximity to at least one one other.

“Our primary mission for OCSD is to demonstrate laser communications by using a laser on the spacecraft to downlink data to our optical ground station on Mt. Wilson in California,” mentioned Richard Welle, Aerospace senior scientist and one of many principal investigators for OCSD. “This is the first CubeSat laser communications system that will demonstrate an optical downlink. This compact laser package with its potential for much higher rates proves a promising future for CubeSat-scale laser communications.”

The ISARA CubeSat developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will research the efficiency of an built-in photo voltaic array and radio antenna and a compact suite of three seen and infrared cameras that may very well be employed on future climate satellites.

The Naval Postgraduate School’s PropCube 2 CubeSat can also be slated for deployment from Cygnus in December to measure disturbances within the ionosphere, an higher layer of Earth’s environment.

The Cost-effective High E-Frequency Satellite, or CHEFSat, from the Naval Research Laboratory will badist engineers gauge the efficiency of a consumer-grade radio frequency system in house.

The first satellite tv for pc for Asgardia, a company that goals to turn out to be the primary nation state in house, was additionally launched Sunday. The group was created by Igor Ashurbeyli, a Russian scientist, and the Asgardia 1 satellite tv for pc hosts a 500-gigabyte stable state drive containing recordsdata and information uploaded by the group’s supporters, or residents.

The Cygnus spacecraft will fall out of orbit in December after wrapping up the CubeSat deployments and dissipate within the environment over the South Pacific Ocean, discarding the house station’s trash and different unneeded objects tagged for disposal by NASA.

Orbital ATK is certainly one of two NASA contractors with operational resupply automobiles for the house station.

The house company awarded contracts to Orbital ATK and SpaceX in 2008 to ferry cargo to the badysis lab after the retirement of the house shuttle. Orbital initially acquired a $1.9 billion contract for eight missions, a deal that was later prolonged to 11 flights.

The present mission, referred to as OA-Eight, is the eighth flight in Orbital ATK’s cargo resupply contract. NASA awarded Orbital ATK, SpaceX and newcomer Sierra Nevada Corp. a brand new spherical resupply contracts in 2016, guaranteeing every firm a minimal of six extra cargo missions from 2019 via 2024.

That bumps Orbital ATK’s backlog to at the least 9 extra Cygnus resupply flights within the subsequent seven years, most of that are anticipated to launch on the corporate’s personal Antares booster from Virginia. Orbital ATK additionally has the choice to launch Cygnus missions utilizing United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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