NASA, Orbital ATK Set Cygnus Launch for Oct. 13

Cygnus Spacecraft
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured Dec. 9, 2015, moments before it was captured by the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The Cygnus spacecraft is targeted to launch atop an Antares rocket Oct. 13 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. NASA and Orbital ATK officials successfully completed a flight readiness review and are working towards an Oct. 11 roll out of the vehicle to the launch pad.

This will be the sixth cargo mission to the International Space Station for Orbital ATK which will be packing about 2,400 kilograms of crew supplies and research gear inside Cygnus. While mission managers work on pre-launch activities, the Expedition 49 crew is preparing for Cygnus’ cargo delivery and training for its robotic capture.

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi will monitor Cygnus from the robotics workstation inside the cupola during its approach and rendezvous. When Cygnus reaches a point about 10 meters from the station the duo will command the 57.7-foot Canadarm2 to grapple the resupply ship. Ground controllers will then remotely take control of Canadarm2 and mount Cygnus to the Unity module.

Despite a busy schedule, all three crew members, including Commander Anatoly Ivanishin, continue pressing ahead with ongoing science experiments and station maintenance. Onishi is in the middle of a study documenting his nutritional intake this week while Rubins checked out a U.S. spacesuit today. Ivanishin worked on Russian life support systems and had time set aside for space research.


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Cygnus Training Under Way Before Launch Set

Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew (eye at top center) was pictured from the space station on the afternoon of Oct. 3, 2016. Credit: @Space_Station

The Expedition 49 crew is getting ready for the mid-October arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. The trio is also exploring human research and setting up a student Earth observation experiment.

First-time astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are brushing up on the robotic capture techniques necessary to grapple the Cygnus cargo craft. The Cygnus private space freighter is targeted to launch from Virginia between Oct. 9 and 13 and arrive at the International Space Station about 2-1/2 days later.

The duo will be inside the cupola at the robotics controls monitoring Cygnus’ arrival then capturing it with the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2. Ground controllers will then take over robotic operations and remotely attach Cygnus to the Unity module. Cygnus is delivering crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to the station crew members.

Before the pair began training today, Rubins sampled the station’s water for microbes and stowed the Hard to Wet Surfaces research gear. Onishi tested his fine motor skills on a mobile tablet device and logged his diet for the ENERGY experiment.

Commander Anatoly Ivanishin set up the Sally Ride EarthKAM experiment inside a Harmony module window today. The Earth imagery gear allows students to take pictures of Earth from space and share them on the internet.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

NASA and Orbital ATK Prepping for Mid-October Cargo Mission

Cygnus Spacecraft Before Capture
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured before its capture Dec. 9, 2015 at the International Space Station.

Mission managers are targeting the Oct. 9-13 timeframe for the launch of the sixth Orbital ATK resupply mission to the International Space Station. A pair of astronauts onboard the station are also training for the robotic capture of the Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK when it arrives about two days after launch.

Cygnus’ primary mission is to deliver about 2,400 kilograms of supplies and science experiments to the Expedition 49 crew. When Cygnus departs the station about a month later it will participate in secondary missions including combustion research and deploying CubeSats for weather forecasting before reentering Earth’s atmosphere.

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi called down to ground controllers today to review and train for next month’s planned arrival of the Cygnus. The duo will be in the cupola monitoring the Cygnus’ rendezvous and approach before grappling and installing the spacecraft with Canada’s robotic arm Canadarm2.

The duo also collected saliva samples for stowage in a science freezer and participated in body mass measurements. Commander Anatoly Ivanishin explored new ways to detect pressure leaks on the space station and continued more research into charged particle systems in magnetic fields.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

U.S. and Russia Targeting Mid-October Cargo Missions

NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins holds a reference guide during an emergency descent drill aboard the space station.

The United States and Russia are working to get a pair of cargo ships ready for a mid-October launch schedule to the International Space Station. While the new shipments are being processed, the Expedition 49 crew conducted eye checks, wore carbon dioxide monitors and prepared for a fuel combustion experiment.

The U.S. company Orbital ATK is targeting the Oct. 9-13 time frame for the launch of its sixth Commercial Resupply Services mission to the space station. Its Cygnus spacecraft will be scheduled to launch atop an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Va., after successfully completing operational milestones and technical reviews.

The next resupply mission will be Oct. 20 when the Progress 65 cargo craft launches from Kazakhstan on a two-day trip to the space station. The new Russian space freighter will replace the Progress 63 after it undocks Oct. 14 from the rear port of the Zvezda service module.

Back on orbit, astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi paired up for routine eye exams today with remote support from ground personnel. Rubins, from NASA, also wore personal devices to demonstrate the ability to monitor a crew member’s exposure to carbon dioxide aboard a spacecraft.

Onishi, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, continued setting up gear to begin the Group Combustion experiment next week. That study will explore how flames fed by fuel droplets spread in microgravity.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Astronaut Works Spacesuits as Cygnus Burns Up for Science

Astronaut Jeff Williams
Astronaut Jeff Williams works on a pair of U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock. Credit: NASA TV

Commander Jeff Williams continued the ongoing maintenance on U.S. spacesuits throughout the workday on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Cygnus cargo craft from Orbital ATK re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere completing one final experiment.

Williams scrubbed cooling loops and collected water samples from inside U.S. spacesuits ahead of a pair of spacewalks planned for later this year. The main task planned for the first spacewalk will be installing an international docking adapter to the Harmony module. The second spacewalk will see the replacement of batteries as part of maintenance for the International Space Station’s power system.

Cygnus has been busy since its release from the station June 14 serving as a platform for science. Its first experiment saw a large fire set inside the vehicle helping scientists understand combustion in space. Earlier this week, a set of nanosatellites was released from Cygnus. Finally, as Cygnus broke apart during its re-entry recorders downlinked data providing insights into the behavior of spacecraft re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Last Day in Space for Cygnus as Crew Practices Emergency

Full Moon Above Earth
The moon is pictured above Earth from the space station.

A cargo ship that was released last week from the International Space Station will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere Wednesday. Back inside the orbital lab, the crew practiced emergency procedures after a light day of science and maintenance.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is spending its last day in space today. Cygnus has been busy conducting an array science activities including a fire experiment and deploying nanosatellites. It will complete its last experiment Wednesday monitoring its own destruction when it deorbits into Earth’s atmosphere.

Aboard the space station, the three-member Expedition 48 crew practiced an emergency drill. In the unlikely event of an emergency such as a rapid depressurization, the crew would put on gas masks, head to its Soyuz spacecraft, put on their Sokol spacesuits and prepare for an undocking and descent back to Earth.

More saliva samples were collected today for the Multi-Omics study researching how an astronaut’s immune system is affected by a long-term spaceflight. The crew also explored heart health in space and analyzed water samples for microbes.

Crew Tests Soyuz as Fire Science Takes Place in Cygnus

Cygnus Departs the Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is seen departing the station after its release from the Canadarm2 Tuesday morning.

A pair of Expedition 47 crew members tested the motion control system of the docked Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft. Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake will ride the Soyuz back to Earth early Saturday morning. They will undock from the Rassvet module then land in Kazakhstan ending a 186-day mission in space.

The trio continued packing the Soyuz and training for Saturday morning’s descent. The crew will experience strong jolts, heaviness and labored breathing and speech as they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and begin experiencing gravity.

After Cygnus departed safely away from the International Space Station on Tuesday scientists from NASA’s Glenn Research Center sparked a large fire inside the space freighter. The Saffire-1 experiment is exploring how fire behaves in microgravity so engineers can design safer spacecraft.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams worked on two U.S. spacesuits ahead of a pair of spacewalks targeted for later this summer. He sampled the cooling loop water then scrubbed the cooling loops inside the spacesuits.

Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka continued transferring cargo in the Progress 63 resupply ship. His fellow cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin worked on the Plasma Kristall experiment exploring how micro-particles become highly charged and interact in plasmas.

Robotic Arm Releases Cygnus Before Fire Experiment Starts

Cygnus Departs Station
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft departs the International Space Station after its release from the Canadarm2. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 47 robotic arm operator Tim Kopra of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 9:30 a.m. EDT while the space station was flying above Paraguay. Earlier, ground controllers detached Cygnus from the station and maneuvered it into place for its departure.

After Cygnus is a safe distance away, ground controllers at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio will initiate the sequence for Saffire-1, and controllers at Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, will activate the experiment.  Cygnus will continue to orbit Earth for up to eight days as it transmits hi-resolution imagery and data from the Saffire experiment. Following complete data transmission, the Cygnus spacecraft will complete its destructive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on June 22. NASA TV will not provide a live broadcast of the Saffire experiment or the Cygnus deorbit burn and re-entry, but imagery from Saffire will be posted on NASA.gov as it becomes available.

The Cygnus resupply craft launched March 22 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for the company’s fifth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station

Watch Astronauts Release Spacecraft from Robotic Arm

Canadarm2 Captures Cygnus
The Canadarm2 robotic arm reaches out to capture the Cygnus spacecraft March 26.

Live coverage began at 9 a.m. EDT on NASA Television of the departure of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station. Release from the station’s Unity module is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

The Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station March 26, delivering almost 7,500 pounds of cargo and science investigations. Experiments delivered on Cygnus supported NASA and other research during Expeditions 47 and 48, including studies in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth, and also will help us on the journey to Mars. Investigations studied realistic fire scenarios on a space vehicle, enabled the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere from space, explored how regolith behaves and moves in microgravity, tested a gecko-inspired adhesive gripping device that can stick on command in the harsh environment of space, and added a new 3-D printer in microgravity.

Watch live on NASA TV or online: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect

Cygnus Leaves Station Tuesday Morning

Cygnus Arrives at Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured arriving at the station March 26. The tip of the Canadarm2 that captured Cygnus moments later is at top right.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station beginning at 9 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 14. Release from the space station’s Canadarm2 is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

About five hours after departure, the Saffire-I experiment will take place onboard the uncrewed cargo craft. Saffire-I provides a new way to study a realistic fire on a spacecraft. This hasn’t been possible in the past because the risks for performing such studies on crewed spacecraft are too high. Instruments on the returning Cygnus will measure flame growth, oxygen use and more. Results could determine microgravity flammability limits for several spacecraft materials, help to validate NASA’s material selection criteria, and help scientists understand how microgravity and limited oxygen affect flame size. The investigation is crucial for the safety of current and future space missions.

Watch the departure live on NASA TV or at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

For more information about Orbital ATK’s mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk.

For more information about the International Space Station, and its research and crews, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.