Wednesday , October 5 2022

The Antares rocket launches freight forwarding to the International Space Station – Spaceflight Now


An Antares missile is lifted at 4:01 am EST (0901 GMT) on Saturday at pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia. Credit: NASA / Joel Kowsky

A Northrop Grumman Antares missile and Cygnus carrier raid on Saturday from Wallops, Virginia, seeking the International Space Station with more than 7,200 kilos of research and equipment, the second ship launch in the space station in less than 24 hours.

The civilian merchant ship arrived at the 139-foot Antares missile away from the Atlantic Space Shuttle, a building owned by the state of Virginia on the Atlantic coast of Wallops Island.

The first stage of the Antares missile, with fuel tanks built in Ukraine and the Russian RD-181 engines, pushed the sprinkler into a clear sky with 864,000 kilos of thrust. The Antares Guidance Computer ordered the engines to rotate gently, directing the rocket to the southeast over the Atlantic Ocean to align with the space station path.

Three and a half minutes in flight, the first phase was closed and split, leaving Antares' upper stage – powered by a Castor 30XL missile engine built in America – to complete the work of accelerating the Cygnus transport ship in orbit.

The Cygnus spacecraft was separated from the Antares upper stage about nine minutes after the liftoff, reaching a preliminary target track to begin a two-day tracking of the space station, culminating in its capture by the robot arm of the laboratory at 5:20. m. EST (1020 GMT) on Monday.

"It was not just a beautiful launch this morning, we put Cygnus exactly where we wanted to go," said Frank DeMauro, vice president of innovative programs in innovation systems Northrop Grumman, who developed and owns the Antares rocket and the Cygnus spacecraft. "The spacecraft, after separation, we were able to communicate (with him) extremely fast and start preparing, we started the steering system and the propulsion system, that everything was tested very well.

"Then we started the process of developing the solar arrays, which I am pleased to say that they have been successfully deployed and produce a lot of dynamics so that the spacecraft is extremely healthy and is ready to begin its journey to ISS" DeMauro told reporters after the launch.

The Cygnus spacecraft participated in a Russian truck restoring progress in the orbit after its firing on Friday from Kazakhstan. The Progress cargo cassette is about to arrive at the space station with a dock around 2:30 pm. EST (1930 GMT) on Sunday, followed by the capture of Cygnus with the robotic arm of the station on Monday.

Photographing a Cygnus Transport Ship File with Expanded UltraFlex Solar Batteries. Credit: NASA

The launch of Antares in Virginia was delayed two days from now.

"While we were waiting for the weather here at Wallops, we had a terrible start Progress from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on Friday," said Joel Montalbano, NASA's deputy head of the space station. "We look forward to attaching both vehicles to the International Space Station and the crew working on them to get the science, take the research out, get all the equipment we have bought in these vehicles and continue the great work we do the International Space Station. "

NASA's astronaut, Serena Auñón-Chancellor, will be on the controls of the Canadian robotic arm that will build the station to seize the Cygnus cargo ship on Monday. European Space Agency official Alexander Gerst and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopiev in the orbital jail 250 km above Earth.

Two additional crew members were supposed to be at the station but their firing ceased two minutes after arriving on October 11 on a Soyuz rocket ship from Kazakhstan. Southeast Commander Alexei Ophwin and NASA astronaut Nica Hag has arrived safely on the downhill after an emergency launch.

The accident left the station with a three-man crew for weeks longer than expected until three new crew members started on another Soyuz Dec flight. 3. Gerst and the company will depart from the station on their Soyuz baggage on December 20, leaving the three newly arrived residents in orbit until another Sowoz crew arrives in the spring.

With just three people on the station – not the typical five or six – Montalbano said some research activities were redefined but the functions were not significantly affected.

"As far as science is concerned, with two fewer people … you will do fewer activities on board, but it is only for a short time, and in fact the crew members on board have taken it and were really working hard and taking the things that should be done, "he said. "Any science or research that is critical to time, does this, and we redefine other activities, so in this respect, we are doing really well."

The Cygnus aircraft supplies a ship to cargo ship NG-10 – it will deliver supplies and experiments for the space station with a capacity of 3.223 kg, including a plastic recycler and a 3D printer to be built to promote production capacities in space and an experiment he studies how he can perceive the human body's ability to perceive movement, orientation, and distant changes in microbeality.

The Recycler and Printer, called Refabricator, is a technology demonstration aimed at analyzing how future space missions could build tools and spare parts on board without requiring renewal from Earth. Developed by Tethers Unlimited under contract with NASA.

"At Tethers, we developed, designed and tested the Refabricator," said Allison Porter, director of missions to the Seattle-based company. "Basically, we melt the polymers and do them in a 3D printer thread … Once the transformer is recycled and created a new thread, we are able to print new components."

The space station already has a 3D printer provided by a company called Made in Space. But this device, intended as proof of the concept of 3D print in space, requires fresh material to be imported from Earth.

Principal investigator Allison Porter with the remanufacturer flight unit. Credit: Emmett Givens / NASA

"When all the results were within, we noticed that there were no significant mechanical effects of microbeality," said Diane Risdon, the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center construction site in Alabama. "Now we have our 3D printer, we know it works in space, the next thing is where do we get the thread? … We have to load that? We are trying to avoid the transshipment of large masses, so we have to find a viable source for thread.

"At ISS, we know there are crowds and crowds of plastic baggies," he continued. "The crew complains, what do we do with all these baggies? They also have packaging – plastic packaging – they use plastic food containers, plastic medical aids, so that periodically round all these trash and burn them in space.

"We think, well, there is our resource," said Risdon. "If we can recycle them, then we are on our way to get our yarn."

Another science research on the Cygnus spacecraft will examine processes in the origin of the solar system that led to the formation of dust particles that eventually evolved into larger objects, leading to the birth of the planets. The experiment, led by researchers at Goethe University in Frankfurt, "records a specially shaped powder with electricity and then studies the shape and texture of the beads formed by these stages in the absence of gravity," according to a NASA review the research.

Here is a breakdown of the cargo manifest provided by NASA:

  • 2,515.5 pounds (1,141 kilograms) of crew supplies
  • 2,301.6 pounds (1,044 kilograms) of scientific research
  • 2,076.8 pounds (942 kg) of vehicle equipment
  • 253.5 pounds (115 kilos) of computer resources
  • 68.3 kilos (31 kilos) of spacecraft equipment

The Cygnus supply ship is expected to remain idle at the Unity Unit of the International Space Station by mid-February when it will be released from the station's robotic arm.

Cygnus will be loaded with garbage after it leaves the station and will trigger its engine to climb a larger track about 500 kilometers above Earth to develop two CubeSats.

One of the nanosensors is MYSat 1, a CubeSat 1U around the size of a Rubik's cube. Transfer of two payloads – camera and lithium-ion battery – MYSat 1 was built by the Masdar Science and Technology Institute in Abu Dhabi, supported by Northrop Grumman's innovation systems and Al Yah satellite communications company in the United Arab Emirates.

The other CubeSat set for release on the higher track is CHEFSat 2 from the US Naval Research Laboratory.

Regarding the size of a shoe box, CHEFSat 2 is a copy of a CubeSat that started by sending Cygnus cargo to the space station last November. CHEFSat 2 will test off-the-shelf commercial technologies to assess their performance in space, focusing on new radio communications capabilities.

Cygnus will lower its track below the altitude of the space station after releasing MYSat 1 and CHEFSat 2, aiming at an altitude of approximately 200 miles (325 km) to separate KickSat 2, a CubeSat mission under the auspices of the principal researcher Jacques McCain at Stanford University.

The KickSat 2 delivers 100 "sprites" – essentially 1.4-inch (3.5 cm) circuit boards with built-in power, computer, sensor and communications equipment. The mission is a continuation of the KickSat mission that began in 2014, but failed to release its orbits in the track.

The mission will test the boundaries of microscopic satellite broadcasting, a trend toward affordability that has been widespread by the CubeSat design over the past two decades. But KickSat's Sprites are a small part of the size of a CubeSat.

KickSat 2 will launch the aliens at a lower altitude to ensure the plaques return to the Earth's atmosphere within a matter of weeks, avoiding the probability of spores that could be difficult to detect with terrestrial radar and become long-term threat of space debris on other satellites.

Cygnus had to carry over half a dozen additional CubeSats into its interior cabin for eventual release via a airlock to the space station. But all of them were removed from the cargo manifest and postponed for future launches, according to Scott Higginbotham, NASA mission officer. The Nanosatellites program is launching the Kennedy Space Center.

Two of the CubeSats initially assigned to fly to the NG-10 mission – UNITE and TechEdSat 8 from Purdue University and NASA's Ames Research Center – will be released on the next SpaceX renewal flight to the station no earlier than December 4, Higginbotham said. The rest will be placed in future Northrop Grumman or SpaceX cargo launches.

The managers also decided not to start a secondary payload in the second stage of the Antares missile.

Approximately 60 "ThinSat" dishes, each of the size of a slice of bread, were to be developed by the Antares missile shortly after they arrived in orbit, well below the altitude of the space station, where they would quickly return to the atmosphere and burn. Using a standard form factor, children from middle school age to university students were integrated into ThinSats with support from Virginia Merchant Space Flight Authority, Twiggs Space Lab, Northrop Grumman, and NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

The first ThinSats had to fly at the launch of NG-10, but now they will start the next Antares mission in April.

Officials have agreed to remove ThinSats from Saturday's launch to ensure that tiny slides do not pose a risk of collision with Progress, according to Dale Nash, Managing Director of Virginia Space. While there is no concern that ThinSats could be a threat to the space station itself, Progress revolves around the same altitude, the tiny chips would be circulating.

The Cygnus offering ship launched on Saturday is called S.S. John Young, in honor of the NASA astronaut who flew in six space missions – Gemini 3, Gemini 10, Apollo 10, Apollo 16, STS-1 and STS-9. Young was head of the first NASA Gemini spacecraft in 1965, walked the moon at Apollo 16 in 1972, and headed the first space shuttle mission in 1981. He died in January.

The unoccupied Cygnus freight carrier is made up of two modules – a service and promotion module built by Northrop Grumman's innovation systems in Dulles, Virginia, and a logistics sub-unit manufactured by Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy.

Cygnus is designed to return to the Pacific Ocean atmosphere at the end of its mission and burn, rejecting the rubbish that is carried inside.

NG-10 is the first Cygnus flight, as Northrop Grumman acquired the Orbital ATK, which developed and displaced previous shipments with a NASA launch contract 11 worth $ 2.89 billion.

Starting with the NG-12, which will be launched in late 2019, Northrop Grumman will launch a next commodity supply contract, ensuring the company has at least six additional flights by 2024.

SpaceX is also launching cargo at NASA's space station and the space agency has pushed Sierra Nevada Corp. to start supplying the research complex by the end of 2020.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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