Launch Day Forecast Remains 75% Favorable

Northrop Grumman’s 17th commercial resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station, is scheduled to launch within a five-minute window that opens 12:40 p.m. EST today, Feb. 19.

The launch range forecast remains 75% favorable, with ground winds being the primary concern.

white rocket lifting off
April 2019 file photo of an Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia. Credit: NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility/Jamie Adkins

Launch of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus cargo spacecraft will be from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

Live launch coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and NASA’s App, beginning at 12:15 p.m.

smiling Piers Sellers
April 2016 file photo of late astronaut Piers Sellers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Rebecca Roth

Loaded with more than 8,300 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware, the Cygnus spacecraft is named the S.S. Piers Sellers in honor of the late NASA astronaut who spent nearly 35 days across three missions helping to construct the space station. A tireless champion of Earth science, Sellers died in December 2016, more than a year after learning he had pancreatic cancer.

A launch on Saturday would put the Cygnus at the space station on Monday, Feb. 21. At about 4:35 a.m., NASA astronaut Raja Chari will capture Cygnus, with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron acting as backup. After Cygnus capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the station’s Unity module Earth-facing port.

Cygnus Mission Go for Saturday Launch as Crew Preps

Astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron train on the robotics workstation for the capture of the Cygnus space freighter when it arrives on Feb. 21, 2022.
Astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron train on the robotics workstation for the capture of the Cygnus space freighter when it arrives on Feb. 21, 2022.

A U.S. resupply ship is poised to blast off Saturday morning on a day-and-a-half-long journey to replenish the International Space Station. While two astronauts train for its robotic capture, the rest of the Expedition 66 crew focused on maintaining science hardware and orbital lab systems.

Weather at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is forecast to be 75% favorable for the launch of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter on Saturday at 12:40 p.m. EST. NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron will be on duty Monday morning observing Cygnus’s arrival from the seven-windowed cupola. Chari will be at the robotics workstation commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus on Monday at 4:35 a.m. when it reaches a distance of about 10 meters from the station. Barron will be monitoring the cargo craft’s systems during its methodical approach and rendezvous.

Following the successful capture of Cygnus, ground controllers will take over the controls of the Canadarm2 and remotely maneuver the vehicle toward the Unity module. Cygnus will then be installed on Unity, where the astronauts will open the hatches shortly afterward and begin unloading over 8,300 pounds of station gear and new science experiments. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will broadcast the launch live beginning Saturday at 12:15 p.m. with rendezvous and capture coverage beginning Monday at 3 a.m.

The crew’s remaining three astronauts and two cosmonauts serviced a variety of station gear, worked on space research, and unpacked a new Russian resupply ship.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei worked on the Kibo laboratory module’s water recovery system while NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn replaced components inside the COLBERT treadmill. Astronaut Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) checked out wireless gear that downloads biomedical data then moved at radiation detection hardware.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov explored plasma physics that could inform future research methods and spacecraft designs. Roscosmos Flight Engineer worked on Russian communications gear before continuing to unpack cargo from the newly arrived Progress 80 cargo craft.

L-48 Weather Update, Prelaunch Teleconference on Feb. 18

The Wallops Range continues to predict 75% favorable weather for the Saturday, Feb. 19, launch window of NASA commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft. The primary concern for launch at this time is strong southwesterly ground winds.

File photo from Aug. 10, 2021, showing liftoff of a Northrop Grumman Antares vehicle from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia. Credits: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil

Tune in Friday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. ET for a prelaunch briefing teleconference with the following participants:

  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program
  • Jennifer Buchli, deputy chief scientist, International Space Station Program
  • Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial space, Tactical Space Systems, Northrop Grumman
  • Kurt Eberly, director, Space Launch Programs, Launch and Missile Defense Systems, Northrop Grumman
  • Jeff Reddish, project manager, NASA Wallops Range Antares Project
  • Caroline Jones, meteorologist, NASA Wallops Range

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live online at: https://www.nasa.gov/live

Media who wish to participate in the teleconference must contact Gina Anderson at: 202-358-1160 or gina.n.anderson@nasa.gov at least two hours prior to the start of the teleconference for dial-in information.

Questions can be submitted on social media using #AskNASA.

U.S. Cargo Mission Nears Launch, Crew Unloads Russian Space Freighter

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured launching atop the Antares rocket from Virgina to the space station in April of 2019.
The Cygnus space freighter is pictured launching atop the Antares rocket from Virgina to the space station in April of 2019.

A U.S. rocket carrying Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is counting down to launch toward the International Space Station on Saturday. Meanwhile, Russia’s Progress 80 cargo craft completed a two-day space delivery mission to the Expedition 66 crew early Thursday.

An Antares rocket stands at the Wallops Flight Facility launch pad in Virginia ready to boost the Cygnus cargo craft to orbit on Saturday. It will lift off at 12:40 p.m. EST placing Cygnus, carrying more than 8,300 pounds of station gear and science experiments, into space about nine minutes later. Once on orbit, Cygnus will deploy its cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays which will power the vehicle during its journey to the orbiting lab.

NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron will be on duty early Monday monitoring Cygnus’ automated approach and rendezvous. When Cygnus reaches a point about 10 meters from the station, Chari will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture the vehicle at 4:35 a.m. Ground controllers will then take over the Canadarm2 and remotely install the U.S. cargo craft to the Unity module a couple of hours later.

Russia’s Progress 80 resupply ship docked to the Poisk module at 2:03 a.m. on Thursday, delivering nearly three-and-a-half tons of food, fuel, and supplies, to the seven orbital residents. Station commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov opened the hatch a few hours later and began unpacking the cargo that had launched from Kazakhstan just over two days earlier.

Despite the busy cargo schedule this week, biomedical science was in full-swing on the station today. Barron joined NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Mark Vande Hei investigating how weightlessness affects visual function. Chari partnered with ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer and checked his eyes using medical imaging gear.

L-72 Hour Weather Forecast for Antares Launch on Feb. 19

The Wednesday, Feb. 16, Wallops Range forecast predicts 75% favorable weather for the Saturday, Feb. 19, launch window of NASA commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft.

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen as it is transported to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA Wallops/Patrick Black

The primary concern for launch at this time is strong southwesterly ground winds.

A strong upper-level shortwave digs out of the Great Lakes region Saturday morning and moves through the northern mid-Atlantic region early Saturday afternoon. This will push a secondary cold front across the Wallops area near the time of T-0 on Feb. 19. Surface winds will increase out of the southwest Saturday morning and there is a chance for a few cumulus clouds to develop to our northwest prior to the launch window.