With Cygnus operating well in orbit and setting up for Sunday’s rendezvous following a spectacular liftoff this morning, the NASA Launch Blog for Antares/Cygnus is signing off. Here’s one more look at this morning’s launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, courtesy of NASA photographer Bill Ingalls.
Orbital Sciences confirmed that the two power-generating solar arrays on its Cygnus spacecraft have deployed as planned and the spacecraft is following its course to the International Space Station. The ground controllers have an extensive series of tasks still ahead of them before the cargo craft gets to the station, including a series of evaluations of the Cygnus systems.
The Cygnus spacecraft is unfurling its two solar array wings that will recharge the spacecraft’s batteries. The process will take about 20 minutes to complete.
Now that Cygnus is flying free in orbit, controllers are preparing to deploy its solar arrays for power generation and watching over the uncrewed spacecraft’s course to the International Space Station. The spacecraft will rendezvous with the orbiting laboratory Sunday.
For the first time a fully operational Cygnus spacecraft is flying on its own toward the International Space Station! The spent second stage of the Antares rocket separated as planned leaving the Cygnus to begin its series of automated processes under the watchful eyes of ground controllers from Orbital Sciences and NASA. Cheers break out inside the launch control area. The spacecraft will soon deploy its twin solar arrays.
The fuel on board the second stage has depleted. Separation of Cygnus coming up in about two minutes.
The protective cover over the Cygnus spacecraft has split in two and fallen away on schedule to reveal the cargo carrier to the vacuum of space. All remains on track as the rocket and spacecraft continue to pick up speed to safely reach orbit.