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Cygnus Spacecraft Delivers Holiday Goodies and Science Experiments to the Space Station

The International Space Station’s robotic arm grapples the incoming Cygnus cargo spacecraft on Nov. 14, 2017.

Credit: NASA TV


A Cygnus cargo spacecraft arrived on the International Space Station (ISS) immediately (Nov. 14) to ship meals, provides and a few fascinating science experiments to the Expedition 53 astronauts. 


Orbital ATK, a non-public spaceflight contracted by NASA to fly cargo to the ISS, named this Cygnus spacecraft the S.S. Gene Cernan in honor of the late NASA astronaut and final particular person to stroll on the moon. 


After launching from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, on an Antares rocket Sunday (Nov. 12), Cygnus spent about 45 hours catching as much as the ISS, which orbits about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth at a pace of about 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h). [In Photos: Orbital ATK’s OA-8 Cygnus Cargo Launch to Space Station]

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship S.S. Gene Cernan is seen on approach to the International Space Station by a camera on the orbiting lab on Nov. 14, 2017 as the spacecraft delivers more than 3 tons of fresh food, supplies and science gear to the station's crew.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship S.S. Gene Cernan is seen on strategy to the International Space Station by a digicam on the orbiting lab on Nov. 14, 2017 because the spacecraft delivers greater than three tons of recent meals, provides and science gear to the station’s crew.

Credit: NASA TV


This was the shortest period of time Cygnus spacecraft has spent flying to the ISS from liftoff to rendezvous, Frank DeMauro, vp and common supervisor of Orbital ATK’s Advanced Programs Division, mentioned at a information convention at Wallops Flight Facility Saturday (Nov. 11). 


Using Canadarm2, a 58-foot (18 meters) robotic arm outdoors the ISS, European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli and NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik grappled the incoming Cygnus cargo craft at 5:04 a.m. EST (1004 GMT), fourteen minutes behind NASA’s unique estimate of four:50 a.m. EST (0950 GMT).


More than 7,700 lbs. (three,500 kilograms) of cargo launched to the ISS, together with about 1,900 lbs. (860 kg) of science experiments and new know-how demonstrations. The spacecraft additionally introduced alongside some vacation goodies for the Expedition 53 crew, together with their Thanksgiving dinner and items from the astronauts’ households, Orbital ATK representatives mentioned at a postlaunch information convention. 


Among the science investigations that hitched a trip on Cygnus was a cubesat crammed with E. coli, which researchers will use to review antibiotic resistance. 


Another kind of micro organism, referred to as Staphylococcus aureus, was shipped to the ISS so medical researchers can examine new medication and therapies for quite a lot of pores and skin infections that vary from pimples to harmful antibiotic-resistant staph infections. 


Other dwelling cargo aboard this Cygnus embody mealworms and microclover seeds, which researchers will observe to be taught extra about how microgravity impacts totally different aspects of life on Earth. 


One know-how demonstration will use two cubesats to check a brand new laser-based, space-to-ground communication system and teamwork methods for satellites to satisfy up and work collectively whereas in orbit. 


Cygnus additionally delivered a particular cargo merchandise for the National Geographic Channel: a virtual-reality digicam that movies in 360 levels and 3D. Nespoli will use the digicam to movie across the ISS as a part of an upcoming tv collection, “One Strange Rock.” 


Expedition 53 crewmembers aboard the ISS will spend the following three months unloading cargo from Cygnus after which filling it up with disposable cargo. On Dec. four, Cygnus will undock from the ISS earlier than re-entering Earth’s environment, the place will probably be incinerated nicely earlier than it may hit the bottom. 


Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@house.com or comply with her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.




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