The company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft for its 15th commercial resupply services mission was named after NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, a Black woman who time and again broke through barriers of gender and race.
Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi will capture Cygnus, and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins will be acting as a backup. After capture, the spacecraft will be installed on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port.
The Expedition 64 crew is getting ready for next week’s arrival of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship following its launch on Saturday. The orbital residents are also maintaining science operations and unpacking a new Russian spacecraft at the International Space Station.
The Antares rocket with the Cygnus space freighter atop rolled out to its launch pad on Tuesday at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft will blast off on Saturday at 12:36 p.m. EST carrying about 8,000 pounds of science experiments, station hardware and crew supplies for the orbital lab. NASA TV will broadcast the launch activities live beginning at 12 p.m.
Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and Michael Hopkins will be on duty Monday morning when Cygnus arrives for its approach and capture. Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at about 4:40 a.m. Hopkins of NASA will monitor Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous as it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station.
The duo was joined Thursday afternoon by NASA astronauts Kate Rubins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover to review the upcoming Cygnus cargo operations. Afterward, the quintet called down to mission controllers to discuss unpacking and activating some of the critical science experiments arriving on the U.S. space freighter.
Combustion research and eye checks were also on the schedule aboard the station on Thursday. Walker and Hopkins partnered up on a study observing how flames spread in microgravity. Rubins took charge of eye exams and checked the eyes of Glover and Noguchi using optical coherence tomography.