Next Cygnus Mission to Station Set for March

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Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo craft

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft was captured Oct. 23, 2016, using the Canadarm2 robotic arm on the International Space Station.

Orbital ATK has completed a significant mission milestone for NASA’s next International Space Station cargo mission.

The Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) of the Cygnus spacecraft has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for processing and assembly before launch. The Orbital ATK CRS-7 mission is targeted to launch on Thursday, March 16 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Orbital ATK will launch Cygnus atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket for delivery of essential crew supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The 30 minute launch window opens at 12:29am EDT.

Orbital ATK CRS-7 will mark Orbital ATK’s seventh cargo delivery mission for NASA under its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) -1 contract.

Cygnus Spacecraft Departs ISS

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Expedition 50 robotic arm operators Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) commanded the International Space Station’s Candadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 8:22 a.m. EST while the space station was flying 251 miles over the Pacific Ocean, off the west cost of Columbia. Earlier, ground controllers detached Cygnus from the station and maneuvered it into place for its departure.

Once Cygnus is a safe distance away from the station, ground controllers at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and at Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, will activate the Saffire-II experiment.
Cygnus also will release four LEMUR CubeSats from an external deployer on Friday, Nov. 25, sending them to join a remote sensing satellite constellation that provides global ship tracking and weather monitoring.

The spacecraft will remain in orbit until Sunday, Nov. 27, when its engines will fire twice, pushing it into Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

The Cygnus resupply craft launched Oct. 17 on an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, for the company’s sixth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission. The company’s seventh contracted resupply mission is targeted for spring 2017 on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

OA-5 Press Conference; Launch Blog Coverage Concludes

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The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft on board, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station is delivering over 5,100 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA Wallops/Patrick Black)

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft on board, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station is delivering over 5,100 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA Wallops/Patrick Black)

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft lifted off at 7:45 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A on the company’s upgraded Antares 230 rocket carrying more than 5,100 pounds of cargo.

The cargo ship will rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday, Oct. 23. It will be grappled at approximately 7:05 a.m. by Expedition 49 Flight Engineers Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Kate Rubins of NASA. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module. It is scheduled depart the space station on Nov. 18.

Science investigations aboard Cygnus on their way to the space station also include commercial and academic payloads in myriad disciplines, including:

  • Saffire II, the second in a series of experiments to ignite and study a large-scale fire inside an empty Cygnus resupply vehicle after it leaves the space station and before it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere to improving understanding of fire growth in microgravity and safeguarding future space missions.
  • Cool flames, an investigation into a phenomenon where some types of fuels initially burn very hot and then appear to go out — but actually continue to burn at a much lower temperature with no visible flames.
  • Controlled Dynamics locker- equipment that can minimize fluctuations and disturbances in the microgravity environment that can occur onboard a moving spacecraft that can enable a new class of research experiments.
  • NanoRacks Black Box- a platform that can provide advanced science capabilities and is specially designed for near-launch payload turnover of autonomous payloads including use of robotics, new automated MixStix and NanoLab-style research.

NASA post-launch press release

Cygnus Solar Arrays Deployed

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Both Cygnus solar arrays have deployed successfully and rotated into correct alignment. Once Cygnus moves into sunlight (the spacecraft is currently in Earth’s shadow), the arrays are expected to provide necessary power.

The deployment of Cygnus cargo spacecraft solar arrays generally occurs about 90 minutes after launch and takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Computer model of Cygnus spacecraft with solar arrays deployed. Credit: NASA TV

Computer model of Cygnus spacecraft with solar arrays deployed. Credit: NASA TV

A live post-launch press conference from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility near Chincoteague, Virginia, is scheduled to air on NASA TV at 10:15 p.m. EDT.

Cygnus is loaded with about 5,100 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its crew.

When Cygnus arrives to the space station, on Sunday, Oct. 23, Expedition 49 Flight Engineers Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Kate Rubins of NASA will grapple the spacecraft. They will use the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Alan Poindexter. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The Cygnus spacecraft will spend about 5 weeks attached to the space station. Cygnus will remain at the space station until November, when the spacecraft will depart the station and initiate the second spacecraft fire safety investigation, Saffire-II, and then dispose of approximately several tons of trash during its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Antares OA-5 Launch Imagery

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On Oct. 17, 2016, Orbital ATK launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft atop an Antares rocket to the International Space Station. The spacecraft launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This is the sixth cargo mission to the International Space Station for Orbital ATK.

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft on board, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station is delivering over 5,100 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA Wallops/Patrick Black)

View of launch from helicopter. Photo Credit: (NASA Wallops/Patrick Black)

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station is delivering over 5,100 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station is delivering over 5,100 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Liftoff for OA-5 Antares Rocket!

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The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station is delivering over 5,100 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station is delivering over 5,100 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Liftoff of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft occurred at 7:45 p.m. EDT this evening, Oct. 17, 2016, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

An hour and a half after launch, commands will be given to deploy the spacecraft’s UltraFlex solar arrays.

Launch coverage will continue on NASA TV at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv until shortly after spacecraft separation then resume at about 9:05 p.m. for solar array deployment, which is expected to last about 30 minutes.

A post-launch news conference will follow and is scheduled to begin on NASA TV at approximately 10:00 p.m.

Upcoming Milestones (Approximate Times)

  • 7:49 p.m. Main Engine Cutoff on Antares first stage
  • 7:49 p.m. Stage 1 Separation
  • 7:49 p.m. Fairing Separation
  • 7:49 p.m. Interstage Separation
  • 7:49 p.m. Second stage ignition
  • 7:53 p.m. Stage 2 Burnout/orbit insertion
  • 7:54 p.m. Cygnus Separation from second stage
  • 9:10 p.m. NASA TV Commentary resumes for Solar Array Deploy
  • 9:15 p.m. Solar Array Deployment Begins
  • 9:45 p.m. Solar Array Deployment Ends
  • 9:50 p.m. Commentary ends
  • 10:00 p.m. Post-launch news conference

Cygnus is scheduled for arrival at the International Space Station on Oct. 23, with about 5,100 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during the space station’s Expeditions 49 and 50.

T-Minus 10 Minutes

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With about 10 minutes until launch, Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft is on schedule for 7:40 p.m. EDT liftoff this evening, Oct. 17, 2016, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Weather remains green and no issues are being worked.

Antares rocket poised for launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0-A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Oct. 17, 2016. Credit: NASA TV

Antares rocket poised for launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0-A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Oct. 17, 2016. Credit: NASA TV

This "first-sight" map indicates potential to see Orbital ATK's Antares rocket in the minutes following its launch. Credit: Orbital ATK

This “first-sight” map indicates potential to see Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket in the minutes following its launch. Credit: Orbital ATK

This graphic depicts the maximum elevation the Antares rocket will appear above the horizon for skywatchers in the Mid-Atlantic. For example, a viewer in Pittsburg would not expect to see the rocket appear higher in the sky than five degrees above the horizon (about the width of three fingers held at arm's length). A viewer in . Credit: Orbital ATK

This graphic depicts the maximum elevation the Antares rocket will appear above the horizon for skywatchers in the Mid-Atlantic. For example, a viewer in Pittsburg would not expect to see the rocket appear higher in the sky than five degrees above the horizon (about the width of three fingers held at arm’s length). A viewer in . Credit: Orbital ATK

East Coast map with circles indicating approximate post-launch time for first potential sighting of Antares launch

Viewing map prepared by NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

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