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Space Station Replacement Mission Successfully Launches Virginia – Spaceflight Now



A 139ft (42.5 meters) Antares rocket launches from a 0A swab in the Central Atlantic Ocean Space Port of Wallops, Virginia, carrying a Cygnus delivery ship to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA / Bill Ingles

Northrop Grumman Antares missile, upgraded to carry heavier payloads in orbit, erected Saturday from a launch site on Virginia's east coast by a Cygnus delivery ship in pursuit of the International Space Station food, a collection of biological and technological demonstration experiments, a zero g baking oven and a $ 2 billion aging particle physics repair facility.

139ft Antares Rocket Launched at 9:59 PM EDT (1359 GMT) at 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Space Port on Wallops Island, Virginia, with over 8,200 pounds (3,700 kilograms) payload a space station orbiting more than 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth.

Thanks to upgrades that debuted on the mission on Saturday, the Antares rocket and the Cygnus cargo ship carried the heaviest cargo ever launched to a space station by a commercial American logistics vehicle. Deliveries should arrive at the station early Monday.

Two major RD-181 engines manufactured by Russia have thrown the Antares rocket off the launch pad and the booster launches through clear skies southeast over the Atlantic with more than 860,000 pounds of thrust. The first-stage structure modifications allowed the RD-181 engines to fly full throttle through the thick lower layers of the atmosphere rather than descend to relieve aerodynamic pressure on the rocket.

Just over three minutes after launch, the Antares rocket shut down its RD-181 engines and the first stage, built by a Ukrainian launcher, was dropped to crash into the Atlantic.

The Antares rocket hull and interconnecting structure were then removed, allowing the US-built Castor 30XL at the top to fire its rigid rocket engine for nearly three-minute firing of the Cygnus spacecraft in orbit.

The second stage burned and deployed the Cygnus 17,660-pound (8,010-pound) spacecraft in orbit less than nine minutes after expiration. Three hours later, the two solar panels generating an electric motor on the cargo ship deployed as designed, Northrop Grumman says.

"Good launch all around," says Adam Lewis, Northrop Grumman's launch guide.

Higher first-stage engine thrust tuning, a lightweight rocket structure and a modified injection orbit gave the Antares 230+ rocket launcher an opportunity to deliver up to 1760 pounds (800 kilograms) of extra mass in low Earth orbit, according to Kurt Eberley, Vice President Northrop Grumman Antares Program

This diagram illustrates the differences between the Antares 230 configuration and the Antares 230+ configuration. Credit: NASA / Northrop Grumman

Saturday's launch marked the 11th flight of the 2013 Antares rocket and the sixth to fly two major RD-181 engines from Russia, replacing the first-stage AJ26 engines used in the first five missions The Antares

AJ26 were modified decade-old NK-33 engines, originally designed for the Soviet-era ill-fated N1 rocket moon, and then stored in storage until imported into the United States in the 1990s. Investigators are tracking the cause of the dramatic explosion of the Antares rocket during the 2014 launch of an AJ26 engine and employees of Orbital Sciences – now part of Northrop Grumman – selected to buy newly built RD-181 engines for future Antares flights.

The Cargo Mission, which launched on Saturday, known as NG-12, is the first in the company's subsequent contract for the supply of supply services-2 with NASA. Following are 11 reload launches on a previous CRS contract.

In addition to the modernization of Antares, Northrop Grumman engineers add capabilities to the Cygnus cargo ship under the second CRS contract.

"Over time, we are constantly upgrading. not only to add more cargo, but also to add more capabilities to the spacecraft, "DeMauro told Spaceflight Now in an interview before launch. "For CRS-2, I think the best way to describe it is to take a step in action and further increase our focus on our ability to support science at the ISS."

The Cygnus Spacecraft for NG-12 missions launched with 10 medium deck storage and experimentation cabinets, and six of the cabinets will be powered throughout the flight to the space station. This is an upgrade from six cabinets – and four power cabinets – to the NG-11 mission.

"First of all, it is the load that is loaded into the final load, because it is the science that is delivered to the ISS for the crew to manage.

The Cygnus spacecraft, launched on Saturday, also carries communications and telemetry equipment to connect scientists to their experiments during the mission – from the elevators to the arrival at the space station.

Northrop Grumman and NASA have also set up new life science labs near the Wallops launch site, MaMauro said.

19659003] In another first for Cygnus, the mission The NG-12 will have two decommissioned experiments installed outside the space station, a role previously reserved for SpaceX & # 39; s Dragon and Japanese HTV trucks.

Northrop Grumman Mission Patch NG-12. Northrop Grumman

The Cygnus spacecraft will depart the space station in January with NASA's space debris sensor, an experiment that fails shortly after its installation in the orbiting complex in 2018, and the European Space Agency's SOLAR instrument, which monitors the solar outputs more than nine Odin.

The two experimental packages will burn during re-entry with the Cygnus spacecraft after Cygnus completes a series of CubeSat deployments after flying away from the station.

"It really helps NASA From a logistical point of view, clearing ejection cargo outside the ISS in addition to the critical role we play in releasing ejected cargo from the ISS," said Mamauro.

But the Cygnus spacecraft

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir will be in control of a Canada-built space station robotic arm on Monday to capture the cargo load of Cygnus

. SS Alan Bean, in honor of the late Apollo and Skylab astronaut, is full of 8 168 pounds (3,705 kilograms) of supplies and experiments heading to the International Space Station, here's a breakdown of the NASA cargo manifest:

  • 4,272 pounds (1 983 kilograms) scientific studies
  • 1667 pounds (756 kilograms) of vehicle hardware
  • 1499 pounds (680 kilograms) of crew supplies
  • 262 pounds (119 kilograms) of unladen cargo (NanoRacks CubeSat dispenser) [19659030] 229 pounds (104 kilograms) of space path equipment
  • 77 pounds (35 kilograms) of hardwood Dr. Northrop Grumman
  • 37 pounds (17 kilograms) computer resources
  • 24 pounds (11 kg) Russian hardware [19659037] There were 15 small satellites, riding aboard the Cygnus spacecraft for launch on Saturday.

    The largest of the group is a US Air Force satellite named STPSat 4, which weighs approximately 220 pounds (100 kilograms) and will be transferred to the space station's Kibo module by astronauts after Cygnus arrives at the orbiting research complex. Sponsored by the military space test program, STPSat 4 will be one of the largest satellites ever deployed from a space station.

    STPSat 4 conducted five experiments from the Air Force Research Laboratory, the US Air Force Academy, and the US Navy. The experiments will test RF module tiles, help develop new technology for solar arrays, collect data with a miniaturized space time tool, demonstrate the performance of an advanced US star tracker, and assist in nanoscale tracking.

    Craig Technologies, based on the Florida Space Coast, is providing integration services for the STPSat 4 spacecraft to be launched by the Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher or SSIKLOPS Deployer. The facility, which was first used in 2014, is designed to release small satellites weighing between 100 and 200 pounds.

    The other CubeSats on board the NG-12 mission are sponsored by NASA, the Air Force, and the National Intelligence Agency. NanoRacks, a Houston-based space services company, organizes the launch of most CubeSats.

    Some will be ejected from the space station upon arrival of the Cygnus spacecraft, while others will be released by Cygnus itself after the cargo vehicle departs. station in January.

    Cygnus is also bringing the latest hardware to a series of ambitious space paths later this month to install a new Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer coolant that looks for evidence of dark matter and antimatter in the universe.

    European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA flight engineer Andrew Morgan will perform space paths to repair the AMS instrument. Complex repairs are expected to require four or five space lanes to be completed by early mid-November.

    Mounted on the tubes of a space station in the penultimate space shuttle mission in 2011, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is effectively a powerful magnet that attracts cosmic rays, subatomic particles, traveling through space at almost the speed of light.

    Three of the four AMS silicone tracker coolant pumps, which measure the trajectory and energy of the cosmic ray trapped by the instrument, have failed, prompting NASA engineers to develop a plan to repair the cooling system. The job requires the development of special tools for cutting out the AMS tool, installing new hardware, and re-sealing small coolant lines.

    The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer has never been designed to be serviced in space. Read our earlier history for details on repairs.

    Other payloads aboard the Cygnus delivery ship launched on Saturday included a rodent exploration experiment. Scientists loaded mice in the spacecraft to study how animals respond to changes in their "circadian" clock in microgravity.

    The 12-hour circadian clock, in which animals daily experience equal amounts of light and dark phases, is associated with the maintenance of stress-responsive pathways. Scientists want to know if exposure to microgravity alters the circadian rhythm of animals.

    Recent studies indicate that genes associated with the 12-hour clock are associated with the most common form of human liver disease. The space station rodent research experiment could reveal new knowledge about liver disease and give scientists ideas for new pharmaceutical treatments, according to NASA.

    Cygnus also launched an experimental garment that astronauts could use to protect themselves from harmful radiation about future deep space missions to the moon and Mars, beyond the natural shielding of Earth's magnetic field.

    The AstroRad vest undergoes fitness tests at the Kennedy Space Center before going to space station to evaluate astronauts for ease of use and comfort. Credit: Lockheed Martin

    AstroRad Vest can protect astronauts from radiation from unpredictable solar storms, which can deliver enough radiation for hours to cause serious health problems for space pilots, officials said.

    "Our innovation was selective screening. , so we selectively protect those organs most vulnerable to either acute radiation syndrome or cancer down the road, "says Oren Milstein, co-founder and CEO of StemRad, an Israeli company that originally developed the vest to protect the first reacting from radiation during a nuclear accident.

    StemRad partnered with Lockheed Martin, NASA's Orion Orion Crew Capsule, to transfer vest technology to space.

    Astronauts at the International Space Station will wear a vest to test its comfort and function, according to Kathleen Coder, principal investigator at Lockheed Martin's AstroRad Vest.

    v est weighs nearly 50 pounds (about 22 pounds). Milstein said the garment is made of thick polyethylene embedded in a highly flexible textile net.

    "This is an ergonomic experiment, so the vest must protect the crew from radiation in deep space, but it must also be comfortable to wear, flexible enough to carry out their daily duties," Coder said.

    A similar vest will fly on the Orion Crew Module at the Artemis 1 mission, an unmanned test flight in orbit around the moon that will test the spacecraft's readiness to wear an astronaut.

    Cygnus will deliver an oven to a space station designed for microwave-cookie cookies, demonstrating technology that will be used in a deep-space radiation environment that is more severe than radiation present at the International Low Earth Orbit Space Station. help future crews prepare their own food on long expeditions to the moon or Mars.

    But the microgravity oven doesn't work like the one on Earth. The heating elements of the Zero-G oven, developed by Zero-G Kitchen and Nanoracks, are arranged around the oven to focus the heat in the center, much like the way a toaster oven works.

    Astronauts will load cookies in the oven on a special tray designed to keep food from floating in microgravity. Oven temperatures will reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) during baking, according to NASA.

    The first cookie baked in space comes from DoubleTree from Hilton, which provided cookie dough with chocolate chips for the baking experiment.

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    Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .


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