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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:Northrop Grumman Cygnus NG-18 CRS flight
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Robert Pearlman
Launch scrubbed due to alarm at mission control

An attempt Sunday (Nov. 6) to launch Northrop Grumman’s NG-18 mission was scrubbed due to a fire alarm at Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft control center in Dulles, Virginia.

The S.S. Sally Ride and Antares rocket remain healthy at the Wallops launch site.

The next attempt will be Monday (Nov. 7) in a five-minute window that opens at 5:27 a.m. EST (1027 GMT).

Weather for that window is currently forecast as 70% favorable: High pressure looks to continue to provide tranquil weather to the Mid-Atlantic before breezy conditions impact the Wallops area Tuesday.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
NASA Science, Cargo Launches on Northrop Grumman Resupply Mission

A Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station with more than 8,200 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 5:32 a.m. EST Monday (Nov. 7) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann will use the space station's robotic Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus upon its arrival, while NASA astronaut Josh Cassada monitors telemetry during rendezvous, capture, and installation on the Earth-facing port of the Unity module.

Northrop Grumman's 18th cargo flight to the space station is the seventh under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA. The Cygnus spacecraft, which Northrop Grumman dubbed 'S.S. Sally Ride' after late NASA astronaut, physicist, and first American woman to fly in space, Sally Ride, launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad 0A at Wallops.

The resupply mission will support dozens of the more than 250 investigations that will be conducted during Expedition 68. Included in the scientific investigations are:

  • Bioprinting tissues

    The BioFabrication Facility successfully printed a partial human knee meniscus and a large volume of human heart cells during its first trip to space in 2019. Now the facility is returning to the microgravity laboratory with new capabilities to further human tissue printing research. The 3D bioprinter tests whether microgravity enables the printing of tissue samples of higher quality than those printed on the ground. These technologies could be used to help alleviate organ shortages for patients in need of transplants.

  • Assessing how plants adapt in space

    Plants exposed to spaceflight undergo changes that involve the addition of extra information to their DNA, which regulates how genes turn on or off but does not change the sequence of the DNA itself. This process is known as epigenetic change. Plant Habitat-03 assesses whether such adaptations in one generation of plants grown in space can transfer to the next generation. The research could inform the development of plants better suited for use on future missions to provide food and other services. Results also could help develop or adapt crops and other economically important plants to grow in marginal and reclaimed habitats on Earth.

  • Mudflow mixtures

    Catastrophic mudflows after wildfires can carry heavy boulders and debris downhill, which is dangerous to humans and causes significant damage to infrastructure and watersheds. Post-Wildfire Mudflow Micro-Structure evaluates the composition of these mudflows, which include sand, water, and trapped air. Results could improve understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that govern post-wildfire debris movement, including how mudflows trap air bubbles and carry heavy boulders. This investigation also could help develop and validate models to predict the spread and velocity of debris flows and their effect on houses, other infrastructure, and natural obstacles.

  • Ovarian cell development in microgravity

    Sponsored by NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and coordinated by ASI, the Modulation of Granulosa and Theca Cells Activity in Microgravity: Consequences for Human Health and Reproduction (OVOSPACE) investigation examines the effect of microgravity on bovine cell cultures, as living for prolonged times in the reduced microgravity environment could impair fertility. OVOSPACE results could improve fertility treatments on Earth and help prepare for future human settlement in space.

  • First satellites from Uganda, Zimbabwe

    The Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Project-5 (BIRDS-5) is a constellation of three CubeSats to be deployed after arrival at the space station: PEARLAFRICASAT-1, the first satellite developed by Uganda; ZIMSAT-1, Zimbabwe's first satellite; and TAKA from Japan. BIRDS-5 performs multispectral observations of Earth using a commercial off-the-shelf camera and demonstrates a high-energy electronic measuring instrument. The statistical data collected could help distinguish bare ground from forest and farmland and possibly indicate the quality of agricultural growth. A cross-border university project, BIRDS provides students from developing nations with hands-on satellite development opportunities, laying a foundation for similar space technology projects in their home countries that ultimately could lead to sustainable space programs there.

These are just a sample of the hundreds of investigations currently conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future human exploration through the agency's Artemis missions, which will send astronauts to the Moon to prepare for future expeditions to Mars.

Cygnus also will deliver a new mounting bracket that astronauts will attach to the starboard side of the station's truss assembly during a spacewalk planned for Tuesday, Nov. 15. The mounting bracket will enable the installation of one of the next pair of new solar arrays later this year.

The spacecraft will remain at the space station until January before it disposes of several thousand pounds of trash through its destructive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
One Cygnus Solar Array Deployed So Far

After launching earlier today, Nov. 7, Northrop Grumman's Cygnus cargo spacecraft has successfully deployed one of its two solar arrays. Northrop Grumman is gathering data on the second array deployment and is working closely with NASA.

Northrop Grumman has reported to NASA that Cygnus has sufficient power to rendezvous with the International Space Station on Wednesday, Nov. 9, to complete its primary mission, and NASA is assessing this and the configuration required for capture and berthing.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
Cygnus Prepares for Rendezvous with Space Station

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft has successfully deployed one of its two solar arrays and completed four rendezvous burns on its way to the International Space Station. To remain focused on the spacecraft’s arrival at the station, Northrop Grumman and NASA made the determination not to deploy the second solar array after initial attempts to deploy it were unsuccessful.

The Cygnus team is gathering information on why the second array did not deploy as planned. Cygnus has sufficient power to rendezvous with the space station Wednesday, Nov. 9. Northrop Grumman is working closely with NASA to monitor and assess the spacecraft ahead of tomorrow’s planned arrival, capture, and installation at the space station. Mission teams also are planning additional inspections of the cargo spacecraft during approach and after capture.

At about 5:05 a.m. EST, Expedition 68 NASA astronaut Nicole Mann will capture Cygnus with the station's robotic arm, with NASA astronaut Josh Cassada acting as backup. After Cygnus' capture, ground commands will be sent from mission control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston for the station's arm to rotate and install it on the station's Unity module Earth-facing port.

Robert Pearlman
SS Sally Ride berthed at space station

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, with NASA astronaut Josh Cassada acting as backup, captured Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft, the S.S. Sally Ride, using the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm on Wednesday (Nov. 9) at 5:20 a.m. EST (1020 GMT).

Flight controllers at NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston then took over control of the arm and installed the Cygnus on the Earth-facing port of the Unity node at 9:03 a.m. EST (1403 GMT). The hatches leading into the Sally Ride will be opened by the space station's Expedition 68 crew later on Wednesday.

The Sally Ride arrived at the station with both of its circular solar arrays in the deployed position, but only one unfurled. Northrop Grumman and NASA are studying the situation to understand what happened.

Robert PearlmanFrom a Northrop Grumman release:
Northrop Grumman worked with NASA to ensure the Cygnus spacecraft completed its primary mission of delivering cargo, even though one of the two solar arrays did not deploy as planned.

"During a rocket stage separation event, debris from an Antares acoustic blanket became lodged in one of the Cygnus solar array mechanisms, preventing it from opening," said Cyrus Dhalla, vice president and general manager, Tactical Space Systems, Northrop Grumman. "Successful berthing was achieved thanks to Cygnus’s robust design and the resilience and ingenuity of the NASA and Northrop Grumman teams."

Robert Pearlman
SS Sally Ride released from space station

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft, the "S.S. Sally Ride," was released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm, which earlier detached Cygnus from the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station’s Unity module, at 7:22 a.m. EDT (1122 GMT) on Friday (April 21). At the time of release, the station was flying southwest of Ireland.

Following a deorbit engine firing later Friday evening, Cygnus will begin a planned destructive re-entry, in which the spacecraft — filled with trash packed by the station crew — will safely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

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