Media got a close-up look at Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft, packed with cargo for the International Space Station Tuesday, June 7, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Reporters talked with International Space Station Deputy Director Robyn Gatens and Dan Tani, mission and cargo operations senior director with Orbital ATK, about the space agency’s efforts to send supplies to the space station using commercial companies.
Dan Tani, senior director of Orbital ATK mission and cargo operations, discusses Cygnus capabilities with reporters during a media day June 7, 2016, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA Wallops/Patrick Black
Orbital ATK will make its fifth Cygnus cargo delivery to the space station this summer under its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. The agency and Orbital ATK currently are targeting July for launch of the company’s Antares rocket from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at Wallops.
Orbital ATK specialists at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia load the Cygnus cargo module with supplies for the International Space Station. Credit: NASA Wallops/Patrick Black
Credit: NASA Wallops/Patrick Black
Orbital ATK technicians mate the Cygnus pressurized cargo module to the program command module during integration operations. Orbital ATK anticipates a July 2016 launch from Wallops to resupply the International Space Station. Credit: NASA Wallops/Patrick Black
During the media event Orbital ATK announced that they will name this Cygnus spacecraft the S.S. Alan Poindexter, to honor the memory of former astronaut and Navy aviator Capt. Alan Poindexter. More information on the next Cygnus mission is available from Orbital ATK at http://go.nasa.gov/1RZdEuy.
Tonight’s launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V went smoothly from countdown through liftoff and ascent. Now the spacecraft and its 7,500 pounds of important scientific equipment and supplies for the crew is speeding toward the International Space Station and a rendezvous early Saturday morning. Read what this mission means for the research aboard the station and other factors at http://go.nasa.gov/1pHzRaE. And that wraps up our coverage this evening of the CRS-6 launch. Thanks for following along with us! Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
With Cygnus in its proper orbit and set up to fly on its own to the International Space Station, officials from NASA, Orbital ATK which built and flies Cygnus, and United Launch Alliance, which operates the Atlas V launch vehicle, offered congratulations to the flight teams and work that went into the flawless countdown and liftoff.
“Clearly this team was ready to go do this launch tonight,” said Kenneth Todd, the space station’s Operations Integration manager. “The ISS is ready and the crew is ready.”
The countdown and flight proceeded smoothly, something that did not go unnoticed.
“We all know it takes a lot of hard work to make it look easy and the team did that,” said Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group.
ULA’s Vern Thorp put the 21-minute flight to orbit into perspective: That’s faster than most pizza deliveries,” he said.
Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
The Cygnus spacecraft is recharging its batteries now that both of its circular solar arrays are unfolded and opened to gather the sun’s energy. “This means that we have come to a successful conclusion of our launch tonight,” said NASA Launch Commentator George Diller. Launch photo by NASA/Kim Shiflett
The Orbital ATK team has confirmation from its Cygnus spacecraft that the first solar array has deployed as planned. The second is unfurling now.
The twin solar arrays of the Cygnus spacecraft have begun their deployment, the Orbital ATK mission control team reports.
The twin solar arrays on the side of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft are to deploy shortly as the spacecraft continues to travel through space on its way to the International Space Station.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is coasting through space tonight an hour after launch. The two solar arrays on the Cygnus are to unfurl later tonight. Among the 7,500 pounds of experiments, gear and supplies aboard the Cygnus spacecraft now flying to the space station are several research efforts involving different areas of study. For instance, the Strata-1 project, above, will see how the regolith – or soil – on asteroids and other bodies with virtually no gravity behave in space. Another project called Gecko Grippers, shown below, are testing an adhesive method inspired by the microscopic hairs on a gecko’s feet. There is a lot more to both of the projects and others packed inside the Cygnus and you can read about them here.
Check out a replay of the Orbital ATK CRS-6 launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V as reported by NASA TV.
Tonight’s launch punctuated a clean countdown for the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. The two solar arrays on the Cygnus will open in about an hour, but right now the spacecraft is exactly where it needs to be and is in position to catch up to the International Space Station for a rendezvous and berthing Saturday morning.