It was erected
into launch position Saturday evening amidst horrible weather conditions.
measures 42.4 meters in height and 3.9 meters in diameter. The Cygnus has a pressurized volume of 27
cubic meters and is 6.39 m in height. It is loaded with 800 kg (1764 lb) of
launch date was adjusted from May 20 to May 21 after the rocket rollout was
Cygnus vessel is jam packed with over 3.5 tons of science and
supplies bound for the six person multinational crew living and working aboard
the million pound orbiting outpost.
alternatively named CRS-9 or OA-9, is Orbital ATK’s ninth contracted cargo
delivery flight to the International Space Station for NASA.
On board Cygnus
are 7,400 pounds (3,350 kg) of cargo including science experiments, research
gear, food, water, spare parts, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to support the Expedition 55
and 56 crews.
Cygnus will deliver
vital equipment, supplies and scientific equipment to the space station as part
of Orbital ATK’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.
The prior Cygnus cargo
freighter was successfully launched by an Antares 230 vehicle from Wallops on
Nov. 11, 2017 on the OA-8 resupply mission for NASA .
Among the research
experiments on OA-9 are; the space Sextant Navigation investigation testing use
of a hand-held sextant by astronauts for emergency navigation on missions in
deep space as humans begin to travel farther from Earth; the Cold Atom Lab
(CAL) is a new facility that will create a spot ten billion times colder than
the vacuum of space, and could help us answer some of the biggest questions in
physics; and Biomolecule
Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST), an investigation to
identify unknown microbial organisms on the space station and understand how
humans, plants and microbes adapt to living on the station.
After it departs, Cygnus will also deploy a number of
cubesats from a Nanoracks supplied deployer.
The Cygnus is named the SS J.R. Thompson – after J.R. Thompson, a distinguished leader in the
aerospace industry and a member of the Orbital ATK family.
“Thompson was a distinguished leader in the
aerospace industry who helped shape the strategy and directed the operations of
Orbital ATK’s predecessor company, Orbital Sciences Corporation, for nearly 25
years. Before joining Orbital, Thompson was NASA’s Deputy Administrator from
1989 to 1991,” said Orbital ATK in a statement.
The cylindrically shaped spaceship will reach orbit some
eight minutes after liftoff and begin an orbital chase
Cygnus will arrive at the ISS on May 24, three days after
launch and a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings.
“Three NASA astronauts aboard the station will
manage the spacecraft’s arrival,” said NASA. “Expedition 55 Flight Engineer
Scott Tingle will grapple the spacecraft, backed by Ricky Arnold, and Drew
Feustel will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach.”
“They will use the space station’s robotic
Canadarm2 to grab the spacecraft and ground controllers will command the
robotic arm to rotate and install Cygnus onto the station’s Unity module.”
NASA televised prelaunch science and mission
briefings over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
The public is invited to watch the launch for
free from the NASA Wallops Visitor Center which opens at 1230 AM on May 21.
“Additional locations for catching the launch
are Robert Reed Park on Chincoteague Island or Beach Road spanning the
area between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. Assateague Island National
Seashore/Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia will not be
open for viewing the launch,” says NASA.
|Map of locations and times on the U.S. East Coast for viewing the Antares rocket launch. Credit: Orbital ATK
The launch could be visible to tens of
millions of spectators all along the US East Cost depending on clear weather
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of Orbital ATK,
SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and more space and mission reports direct from the Wallops
Flight Facility, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing
Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer – ken