Robotic Arm Grabs Space Delivery After Three Day Mission

Cygnus Capture
A computer overlay with engineering data provides video of the Canadarm2 robotic arm maneuvering to capture the Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter. Credit: NASA TV

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra successfully captured Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo vehicle at 6:51 a.m. EDT. The space station crew and the robotics officer in mission control in Houston will position Cygnus for installation to the orbiting laboratory’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module.

NASA TV coverage of the installation will begin at 9:15 a.m. Installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed by 9:25 a.m.

Among the more than 7,700 pounds of supplies aboard Cygnus are numerous science and research investigations and technology demonstrations, including Saffire-I, which will provide a new way to study a large fire on an exploration craft. Such studies have not been possible in the past because the risks for performing such studies on spacecraft with astronauts aboard are too high.

Saffire-1 will remain on the spacecraft once all the other supplies are unloaded, and the vehicle will be attached to the space station for about two months. Once it departs and the spacecraft is a safe distance from the space station, engineers will remotely conduct the first Saffire experiment before the Cygnus’ destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Before detaching from the station, Cygnus will also be filled with about 3,000 pounds of trash, which will be burned up over the Pacific Ocean.

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Watch Space Delivery on NASA TV Now

Cygnus Prepares for Capture
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft was pictured in December 2015 moments away from its robotic capture.

An Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft carrying more than 7,700 pounds of supplies and science and research investigations is set to arrive to the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The uncrewed cargo ship launched at 11:05 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 22 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to begin its journey to the orbiting laboratory.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the station’s Candarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at approximately 6:40 a.m. NASA TV coverage will begin at 5:30 a.m. Installation is expected to begin at 9:25 a.m. NASA TV coverage resumes at 9:15 a.m.

The mission is Orbital ATK’s fifth cargo delivery flight to the station through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, and the second flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station.

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To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-6 and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and the hashtag #Cygnus.

Crew Preparing for Saturday Delivery

Expedition 47 Astronauts
Expedition 47 astronauts (from left) Jeff Williams, Tim Kopra and Tim Peake share a light moment with reporters on Earth. Credit: NASA TV

A new shipment of science, spacewalk gear and crew supplies is on its way to the International Space Station. The Expedition 47 crew is preparing for its arrival while continuing research and maintenance operations onboard the orbital laboratory.

The Cygnus space freighter is refining its orbital path to the station to complete a Saturday delivery to the Harmony module. Astronauts Tim Kopra, Tim Peake and Jeff Williams are training for the robotic capture of Cygnus using Canada’s 57.7 foot Canadarm2. NASA TV will provide coverage of the Cygnus rendezvous and capture beginning Saturday at 5:30 a.m. EDT/9:30 a.m. UTC.

Meanwhile, the crew is moving on with advanced experiment work exploring how living in space affects a crew member’s body. The orbital science activities also have the potential to improve life on Earth.

Peake continued more immune system research today for the Multi-Omics investigation. Peake and Kopra then partnered up for the Habitability Factors experiment. Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Yuri Malenchenko worked together on the Cardiovector blood circulation study. Malenchenko then joined Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka researching how crew members adapt to moving around in weightlessness.

Cygnus Lifts Off on Three Day Mission to Station

Cygnus Launch
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft launches atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida. Credit: NASA TV

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifted off at 11:05 p.m. EDT/3:05 a.m. UTC, and Cygnus has begun its journey to the International Space Station with an arrival on March 26. Cygnus will separate from the upper stage of the Atlas rocket 21 minutes after launch.

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

This is the second Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system and the second flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. In addition to the new solar arrays, the cargo freighter features a greater payload capacity and new fuel tanks. Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft’s interior volume capacity by 25 percent, allowing more cargo to be delivered with each mission.

Launch coverage will continue on NASA TV at until shortly after spacecraft separation then resume at about 12:35 a.m. in advance of solar array deployment at about 12:41 a.m.

A post-launch news conference is scheduled to begin on NASA TV at approximately 1:30 a.m.

Join the online conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Science Packed and Ready for Tonight’s Cygnus Launch

Cygnus Spacecraft at Launch Pad
The Cygnus spacecraft sits atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at its launch pad in Florida.

Officials in Florida are forecasting a 90% chance of favorable weather for tonight’s launch of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus space freighter to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the crew explored advanced space science today and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency aboard the station.

Cygnus is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 11:05 p.m. EDT/3:05 a.m. UTC. The cargo mission will deliver nearly 7,500 pounds of science gear, crew supplies and vehicle hardware Saturday morning to the Expedition 47 crew.

Among the science being delivered aboard Cygnus is a pair of unique experiments exploring different fields. The Gecko Gripper study will research systems that use grippers with unique properties of adhesion. The Meteor study will observe meteor shows from the space station and explore their chemistry.

The orbiting crew today looked at how living in space affects a crew member’s physiology and performance. They looked at brain function, bone marrow and red blood cells. The crew also explored the effects of medicine on orbit and the habitability factors of a spacecraft.

New Trio Adapts to Station, Cygnus Ready at Launch Pad

Atlas V Rocket and Cygnus Spacecraft
The Atlas V Rocket that is launching the Cygnus cargo spacecraft stands at the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 47 crew is at full strength after the arrival of three new crew members Friday night. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will be familiarizing themselves with station systems over the next few days and will be staying in space till September.

All six crew members, including Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and British astronaut Tim Peake, spread throughout the orbital laboratory to explore a wide array of advanced space science.

Kopra researched the impact of microbes on a crew member’s immune system and wrapped up a liquid crystal experiment. Peake participated in a secondary immune system study before getting gear ready for a combustion experiment. Malenchenko explored the changes in a crew member’s blood circulation in space, compared to their circulation on the ground.

Orbital ATK is getting ready to launch its Cygnus space freighter to the International Space Station Tuesday night from Florida. The crew is training for its arrival Saturday night when they will capture it and attach it to the Unity module. Cygnus will deliver almost 7,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew.

Soyuz Stands Ready at Launch Pad as Cargo Missions Line Up

Soyuz TMA-20M Rocket at the Launch Pad
The Soyuz TMA-20M rocket stands ready for lifoff at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz rocket that will carry three new crew members to the International Space Station Friday evening stands ready for launch in Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio awaiting reinforcements is busy with medical science and preparations for upcoming cargo missions.

High winds at the Baikonur Cosmodrome delayed the raising of the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft into vertical position a few hours after its roll out Wednesday. Launch is scheduled for 5:26 p.m. EDT/9:26 p.m. UTC Friday. Expedition 47-48 crew members Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka will arrive at their new home in space less than six hours later.

The three current residents onboard the orbital laboratory, Commander Tim Kopra and Flight Engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko, continued their medical research to help scientists understand how living off the Earth affects the human body. The crew is also getting ready for a pair of cargo deliveries due soon from Orbital ATK and SpaceX.

Kopra and Peake were back at work today on the Ocular Health study scanning their eyes with an ultrasound and checking their blood pressure. Kopra also explored how microbes affect the human immune system in space and practiced the robotic capture of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. Peake is helping engineers validate the technology that will control rovers on another planet from a spacecraft. Malenchenko researched how the digestive system adapts to microgravity and packed trash into the 61P resupply ship due to undock at the end of the month.

Orbital ATK will launch its Cygnus space freighter Tuesday at 11 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center on a four-day trip to the space station. Cygnus will deliver almost 7,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew.

Cygnus Departs Station after Robotic Release

Cygnus Released from Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is released from the International Space Station’s Canadarm2. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 46 astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 7:26 a.m. EST while the space station was flying above Bolivia. Earlier, ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center had maneuvered Cygnus into place for its departure.

Once the spacecraft is a safe distance from the station, its engines will fire twice, pushing it into Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. The deorbit burn and re-entry of Cygnus will not air on NASA TV.

The Cygnus resupply craft arrived to the space station on Dec. 9, following Dec. 6 launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for the company’s fourth NASA-contracted commercial station resupply mission.

Experiments delivered on Cygnus supported NASA and other research investigations during Expeditions 45 and 46, in areas such as biology, biotechnology, and physical and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.

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Watch Live Coverage of the Cygnus Release from Station

Cygnus Released from Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured just after being released from the space station in August 2014.

NASA Television is providing live coverage now of the departure of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station. Release from the space station’s Unity module is scheduled for 7:25 a.m. EST / 12:25 p.m. UTC.

Watch the departure live on NASA TV or at:

The Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station Dec. 9, delivering more than 7,000 pounds of cargo to support dozens of science experiments from around the world.

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Cargo Ship and Crew Departure Preps Underway

Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft
Astronaut Tim Peake photographed the Cygnus cargo spacecraft with its umbrella-like solar arrays. The Soyuz TMA-19M crew spaceship is seen to the left. Credit:

The crew aboard the International Space Station is set to say farewell to a pair of spaceships over the next several days. The first spaceship, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft, is being readied for its release Friday morning. After that, the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft will return to Earth March 1 bringing home three crew members.

Mission controllers in Houston are finalizing preparations before the 57.7 foot Canadarm2 robotic arm detaches Cygnus from the Unity module. NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra will command the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus at 7:25 a.m. EDT Friday. Finally, Orbital ATK controllers in Virginia will command Cygnus to move away from the station and head towards Earth to burn up high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

Kelly, along with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, is in his final days of a mission that began in March of last year. The pair will take a ride home with three-time station resident Sergey Volkov who has been aboard the orbital lab since September. When the trio lands in Kazakhstan March 1, Kelly and Kornienko will have lived in space continuously for 340 days. Volkov’s mission will have lasted 182 days.

While the crew is busy with spacecraft departure activities, British astronaut Tim Peake worked on a variety of experiments today. He partnered with Kopra on a pair of experiments, one looking at how astronauts work on detailed interactive tasks and another researching cognitive performance. Peake also studied the thermophyscial properties of different metals inside Japan’s Electrostatic Levitation Furnace.