NASA, Northrop Grumman Deep into Re-Planning Cygnus Launch Manifest After Soyuz Crew Launch Failure

Northrop Grumman built Cygnus NG-10 cargo spacecraft
is prepped inside darkened clean room High Bay facility at NASA Wallops with
range finding lights illuminated to aid station astronauts verify the correct
attitude and position on approach in space. 
It was named in honor of NASA astronaut and Apollo 16 moonwalker John Young
on Oct. 24, 2018.  Blastoff on Antares
rocket is slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A
at NASA’s
Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the International Space Station.
  Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Ken Kremer     SpaceUpClose.com     28 October 2018


NASA
WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, VA –  NASA and
Northrop Grumman are deep into “re-planning” the optimum “cargo content” of the next unpiloted Cygnus resupply mission launching  to the International Space Station (ISS) in
mid-November – in the wake of the Soyuz crew launch failure emergency earlier
this month from Kazakhstan, explained former Astronaut Rick Mastracchio at
NASA’s Virginia launch base.



Northrop
Grumman is giving NASA the “flexibility they need” to change and optimize the
manifest ahead of the planned Nov. 15 launch of the Cygnus NG-10 supply ship
slated to deliver over 3.7 tons of science and supplies to the reduced crew of 3 living aboard the orbiting research laboratory. 



The
“flexibility” comes in response to the aborted Soyuz MS-10 flight carrying a
Russian-American crew that unexpectedly ended prematurely but safely some 34 minutes after liftoff on Oct.
11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.



“One of the new twists is that with the failure of the
Soyuz launch vehicle last week, we are trying to give NASA as much flexibility
as possible,” said Rick Mastracchio, former NASA astronaut and 4 time space
flyer and current senior director of Commercial Resupply Services for
Northrop Grumman, during a media event on Oct. 24 at
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility attended by news media including Space UpClose. See our photos herein.



NASA is in a re-planning phase to determine what is the
right gear? What is the right equipment to send up to the space station?” 



“Cygnus is all about science and utilization for the
International Space Station.”



Time is of the essence with a spectacular nighttime blastoff
now less than three weeks away for Northrop Grumman’s 10th
contracted cargo mission to the station – and taking place from NASA’s Virginia
launch base located within viewing distance of America’s biggest population
centers.



Mastracchio made the remarks at the dedication ceremony where
Cygnus was named in honor of Apollo 16 moonwalker and six time NASA astronaut
space flyer John Young – inside the H-100 cleanroom High Bay processing
facility at NASA Wallops on Virginia’s eastern shore. 

Former NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio announces Northrop Grumman built Cygnus NG-10
cargo spacecraft being prepped inside clean room High Bay facility at NASA Wallops
is named in honor NASA astronaut and Apollo 16 moonwalker John Young on Oct.
24, 2018.  Blastoff on Antares rocket is
slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A
at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the
International Space Station.
  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

The newly
christened Cygnus S.S.
John Young NG-10 cargo freighter is currently scheduled to launch aboard the
company’s upgraded Antares 230 version rocket on Thursday November 15 at 4:49 a.m.
EDT from seaside pad 0A
at NASA’s
Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the International Space Station.
 



Some items on the Cygnus
manifest will change from what had been planned prior to the Soyuz mishap,
Mastracchio told me. 



“We are working closely with NASA to give them flexibility
and give them the capability to launch any important gear and equipment that
has to go to the ISS based on that failure,” Mastracchio stated.  



“So we
are working closely with NASA to give them that capability.” 



The automatic
abort system of the extremely reliable Soyuz booster kicked in exactly as it
was designed to in a split second – and saved the lives of Soyuz MS-10 crew launch comprising NASA astronaut
Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin who planned to spend 6 months
aboard the International Space Station as members of the Expedition 57 crew.
Northrop Grumman Antares rockets being processed
for launch inside
the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF).
Booster assembly at right slated for
Nov. 15, 2018 launch from pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the
International Space Station.
 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com
Mastracchio is well acquainted with Cygnus
prior to joining Northrop Grumman in June 2017. 

During his NASA astronaut
career Mastracchio served as a long duration ISS crew member during Expeditions 38 &
39 from Nov. 2013 to May 2014 for 187 days and launching aboard a Soyuz capsule– during which time the Cygnus Orb-1 vehicle arrived
at the station delivering 2
,780 pounds (1,261 kilograms) of cargo on Jan
12, 2014 following NASA Wallops blastoff on Jan. 9, 2014. 

“The first launch of Cygnus I saw was actually from on
orbit of the Orb-1 mission five years ago, as a NASA astronaut while serving on the
ISS.”

“I was so impressed that I actually decided to join this
team about a year ago.”

Wide view of Cygnus spaceship for NG-10 resupply flight during media day inside Northrop
Grumman
 cleanroom processing facility at NASA’s
Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Named
in honor of 
Apollo 16 moonwalker
John Young by former astronaut Rick Mastracchio. Cygnus slated for launch with
3.7 tons cargo to ISS for NASA on Nov. 15, 2018 atop Antares rocket. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com
As part of their
“flexible” approach the Northrop Grumman Cygnus team also modified their
processing procedures to prepare the spacecraft for the Nov. 15 launch.

Cygnus is comprised of
two separately built major pieces that have to be joined together at NASA
Wallops to make a unified spaceship – a pressurized cargo module (PCM)
manufactured by Thales Alenia in Italy and a service module (SM)  manufactured by Northrop Grumman in Dulles,
VA. 

“We did change the processing timeline in terms of
preparing the Cygnus vehicle,” Mastracchio elaborated. 

“We are trying to give NASA the flexibility to change
things.”  

“So we just mated the pressurized PCM to the service
module.” 

“We had delayed that in case NASA wanted to change
something in the initial load. But NASA came back and said no changes to the
initial load now.  But we are going to
want to make changes in the final loads of cargo.” 

The PCM has a pressurized volume of 26.2 cubic meters. 

What guidance has NASA given related to the cargo changes?
Anything specific I asked. 

“We do know that the cargo content will be changing – but
so far we haven’t changed anything specific yet and NASA will let us know soon.”



“So far we haven’t changed the manifest yet.” 


How will this NG-10
mission profile differ from the prior NG-9 mission launched this past spring in
May 2018?



“In general this mission NG-10 is very similar to the last
one, the 9th Cygnus,” Mastracchio replied.



“Obviously the cargo and supplies varies a bit from mission
to mission depending on NASA’s needs.”



“The big difference here is we might be sending up
equipment to deal with the Soyuz failure. 
Clearly there are different science experiments going up now.” 



“We load the last cargo about three days before launch.”


Cygnus is then encapsulated in the payload fairing already waiting
in the Wallops Horizontal Integration Facility and integrated with the Antares
rocket. The rocket is then rolled out to the launch pad.

Cygnus NG-10 spaceship
will be encapsulated inside the payload fairing (nose cone) in the Horizontal Integration
Facility after completing cargo load and then integrated with
Northrop
Grumman
 Antares rocket. Blastoff
slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A
at NASA’s Wallops
Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the ISS.
  Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Cygnus will be loaded with cargo up to 3,450 kg (7,605 lb.)
comprising science experiments, research gear,
food, water, spare parts, crew supplies and vehicle hardware
to support the Expedition 57 and 58 crews.



“We are on target to launch Antares and Cygnus on Nov. 15
at this time,” Kurt Eberly, Antares program manager Northrop Grumman VP, told
Space UpClose in an interview during the Cygnus dedication event at NASA
Wallops on Oct. 24.



“Of course it always depends on NASA’s requirements which
can change.”



“We are looking to have another good launch on Nov. 15 at
4:49 am, the beginning of a 5 minute launch window.” 

Up Close Look inside the payload fairing that will
encapsulate the Cygnus NG-10 cargo resupply ship in the Horizontal Integration Facility and be bolted on top
of
Northrop Grumman Antares
rocket. B
lastoff slated for Nov. 15, 2018 from pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia bound for the ISS.  Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Cygnus will deliver
vital equipment, supplies and scientific equipment to the space station as part
of Northrop Grumman’s Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1) contract with NASA
– totaling 11 cargo flights.



“NG-10 is the next to
last followed by NG-11 next spring under the CRS-1 contract, said Eberly. 



“Northrop Grumman also
has been awarded the follow on CRS-2 contract from NASA comprising at least 6
more cargo missions.”

Long duration exposure image showing launch of Orbital ATK OA-9
Antares/Cygnus to the ISS on 21 May 2018 from NASA Wallops, VA. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com


To date, Cygnus
spacecraft have delivered more than 23,000 kilograms of cargo to the
International Space Station, and removed 17,000 kilograms of disposable
cargo. 



The
prior Cygnus cargo freighter was successfully launched by an Antares 230
vehicle from Wallops on May 21, 2018 on the Orbital ATK OA-9 resupply mission
for NASA before the company merged with Northrop Grumman. 



Watch for Ken’s
continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin,
Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space
Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility,
Virginia.



Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science
and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com



Dr. Kremer is a research
scientist and journalist based in the KSC area.

………….




Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events








Former NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and Ken Kremer/Space UpClose give 2 thumbs
up inside NASA Wallops cleanroom for
Northrop Grumman built Cygnus NG-10
cargo spacecraft named in honor of honor NASA astronaut and Apollo 16
moonwalker John Young on Oct. 24, 2018. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com



Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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