Cygnus Set for Third Launch Attempt on Saturday

Cygnus Spacecraft Rests at Launch Pad
The Cygnus spacecraft rests at the launch pad in Florida after wind gusts exceeded permissible levels for today’s scheduled liftoff. Credit: NASA TV

For the latest Orbital ATK mission information visit the NASA Orbital blog here… https://blogs.nasa.gov/orbital

Launch managers have set Saturday, Dec. 5 at 5:10 p.m. EST for the next launch attempt of the fourth Orbital ATK commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4 p.m. Earlier this evening, the 30-minute launch window tomorrow had a 30 percent chance of acceptable conditions.

The Cygnus is loaded with more than 7,000 pounds of supplies and science and research investigations that are important to advancing NASA’s exploration goals on the journey to Mars, demonstrating technologies that drive innovation, and providing benefits to Earth.

A launch on Saturday would result in Cygnus arriving at the station on Wednesday, Dec. 9, for a grapple at 6:10 a.m.

For NASA’s launch blog with ongoing updates, a mission overview, press kit, launch countdown coverage, and more information about the mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk

To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Cygnus Countdown Continues Amid Weather Concerns

Cygnus at the Lainchpad
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is at the launch pad in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

For the latest Orbital ATK mission information visit the NASA Orbital blog here… https://blogs.nasa.gov/orbital

Countdown is continuing and progressing smoothly for today’s scheduled launch at 5:33 p.m. EST of the fourth Orbital ATK commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Fueling operations have begun. Today’s 30-minute launch window now has a 40 percent chance of acceptable conditions. The primary concern is that wind speed is trending higher, along with continued cumulus clouds, thick clouds, and ground winds.

The Cygnus spacecraft is set to lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying more than 7,000 pounds of supplies and science investigations.

NASA television coverage will begin at 4:30 p.m. and can be seen at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv. Significant countdown milestones are below.

The cargo includes dozens of science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 45 and 46. For a mission overview, press kit, launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk

To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Orbital ATK Countdown & Launch Highlights

EST                        Event

3:03 p.m.               T-2 hours and counting

Pressurize Centaur liquid oxygen storage tank to chill down level

Start Atlas liquid oxygen ground chill down

Start Centaur bottle pressurization to flight level

Pressurize Atlas RP-1 tank to step II

3:13 p.m.                Start Centaur liquid oxygen transfer line chill down

3:20 p.m.                Begin Centaur liquid oxygen tanking

3:33 p.m.                Start Atlas liquid oxygen tanking operations

3:38 p.m.                Start Centaur liquid hydrogen transfer line chill down

3:53 p.m.                Initiate Centaur engine chill down

4:08 p.m.                Start flight control final preparations

4:23 p.m.                Start flight open loop Flight Termination System test

4:30 p.m.                NASA Television Coverage Begins

4:47 p.m.                Initiate fuel fill sequence

4:59 p.m.                Begin 30 minute hold at T-4 Minutes

5:03 p.m.                Weather Briefing

5:26 p.m.                Status check to continue countdown

5:29:11 p.m.           T-4 Minutes and counting

5:33:08 p.m.           RD-180 engine ignition

5:33:11 p.m.           Launch

5:33:29 p.m.           Begin pitch/yaw/roll maneuver

5:34:33 p.m.           Mach 1

5:34:44 p.m.           Maximum Dynamic Pressure

5:37:26 p.m.           Atlas booster engine cutoff (BECO)

5:37:32 p.m.           Atlas booster/Centaur separation

5:37:42 p.m.           Centaur first main engine start (MES1)

5:37:50 p.m.           Payload Fairing jettison

5:51:27 p.m.           Centaur first main engine cutoff (MECO1)

5:54:16 p.m.           Cygnus spacecraft separation

~6:33 p.m.              Cygnus solar array deploy

~7:33 p.m.              Post-Launch News Conference on NASA Television

Station Crew Getting Ready for Heavy Traffic Before Christmas

International Current Space Station Configuration
The current space station configuration has two Soyuz crew spacecraft and two Progress resupply ships docked at the orbital laboratory. View the station overview page.

Crews and cargo shipments will be coming and going at the International Space Station during a busy December in space. Two resupply ships will arrive, one cargo craft will leave and an Expedition 45 trio will head home before an Expedition 46 trio replaces it.

Commander Scott Kelly teamed up with Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren for more robotics training before the Dec. 3 launch and Dec. 6 arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. When Cygnus arrives it will be captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm and berthed to the Unity module.

Meanwhile, Lindgren along with Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui and Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko are preparing for their Dec. 11 landing. On the ground in Russia, their Expedition 46 replacements Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineers Timothy Kopra and Timothy Peake are counting down to their Dec. 15 launch. A docked Progress 61 resupply ship will fire its engines Wednesday raising the station’s orbit to accommodate the mid-December crew swap.

The Cygnus cargo craft is in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center being processed before its early December launch atop an Atlas V rocket. Russia’s Progress 60 (60P) cargo craft will undock from the Pirs docking compartment Dec. 19. A new Progress 62 resupply ship will replace the 60P when it arrives at Pirs Dec. 23.