Tuesday , January 19 2021

Antares rocket launches cargo flight to the International Space Station – Spaceflight Now



Rocket "Antares" rises at 4:01 am. EST (0901 GMT). Saturday at site 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Space Center on Wallops, Virginia. Credit: NASA / Joel Kovski

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket and the Swan cargo ship flew into orbit on Saturday from Wallsox, Virginia, in pursuit of the International Space Station, which has more than 7200 pounds of research equipment and provisions, the second launch of the carrier ship to the space station in less than 24 hours

A non-politicized commercial freighter passed the Antares 139-foot (42.5 meters) rocket from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a state-owned facility on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean on the island of Wallops, Virginia.

The first stage of the Antares rocket with fuel tanks built in Ukraine and Russian-made RD-181 engines brought the launcher into a clear, predisposed sky with a load of 864,000 pounds. Antares directing computer ordered the engines to turn carefully, guiding the rocket southeast over the Atlantic Ocean to align with the space station's path.

Three and a half minutes into flight, the first stage was closed and separated, leaving the top stage Antares – based on a solid-fuel Castor 30XL rocket engine manufactured on solid fuel to complete the work to accelerate the supply of the Cygnus supply ship to orbit.

The Swan spacecraft separated from the upper part of Antares about nine minutes after the ascent, arriving at a preliminary orbit on the target, to begin a two-day chase at the space station, culminating in the seizure of the laboratory robotic arm at 5:20 am EST (1020 GMT ) monday.

“This morning was not just a great launch, he put Swan exactly where we wanted him in orbit,” said Frank De Mauro, vice president of advanced programs at Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, who developed and owns Antares and Cygnus missiles. . “The spacecraft, after separation, we were able to contact (with it) very quickly and start air conditioning. We have initialized the guidance system and movement system. It all went well.

“Then we began the process of deploying solar cells, which, I am pleased to say, were successfully deployed and generate lots and lots of energy, so the spacecraft is extremely healthy and ready to begin its march on the ISS,” DeMauro told reporters after the launch.

The Swan spaceship joined the Progress cargo ship in orbit after its launch on Friday from Kazakhstan. The Progress cargo capsule should arrive at the space station with docking around 2:30 pm. EST (1930 GMT) Sunday, and then the capture of Cygnus using the robotic arm of the station on Monday.

A photo of the Cygnus supply ship file with its UltraFlex fan-like solar cells is deployed. Credit: NASA

The launch of Antares in Virginia was delayed by two days in rainy weather.

“While we were waiting in the weather here in Wallops, on Friday we had a terrific launch of Progress at Baikonur, Kazakhstan,” said Joel Montalbano, deputy director of the NASA space station. "We look forward to when both cars will be attached to the International Space Station, and the crew working on them will receive science, research, get all the equipment we bought on these cars, and we will continue to do a lot of work on the International Space Station ".

NASA astronaut Serena Anunon, Chancellor, will be under the control of a Canadian robotic arm to catch the cargo ship Swan on Monday. It is joined by the European Space Agency commander Alexander Gerst and the Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopiev at the orbital outpost 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth.

Two more crew members were supposed to be at the station, but their launch was interrupted two minutes after takeoff on October 11 aboard the Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan. Commander-ally Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Gaag safely out of order after an emergency launch.

The accident left the station with a crew of three for several weeks longer than expected, until three new crew members were launched on another Soyuz flight on December 3. Gerst and the company will go to the station on the Soyuz landing ship on December 20, leaving three newly arrived residents in orbit until another Soyuz crew arrives in the spring.

Only three people at the station — not the typical five or six — Montalbano stated that some research activities were reoriented, but the operations had no significant effect.

"As for science, with two smaller people … you do a little less work on board, but this is for a short time, and in fact the crew members on board picked it up, and they really work hard and picking up things that should have been are made, ”he said. "Any science or research that is critical in time is done, and we are reorienting other activities, so from this point of view we are doing very well."

The Cygnus supply ship flying on the NG-10 cargo mission must deliver 7,215 pounds (3,273 kilograms) of supplies and experiments to the space station, including a plastic recycler and a 3D printer designed to increase production capacity in space, and experiment who studies the ability of the human body to perceive changes in movement, orientation, and distance in microgravity conditions.

A recirculator and a printer, called Refabricator, are a technological demonstration whose purpose is to analyze how future space missions can manufacture tools and spare parts on board without requiring replenishment from Earth. It was developed by Tethers Unlimited under a contract with NASA.

“At Tethers, we designed, designed and tested the Refabricator,” says Allison Porter, flight mission manager for a company near Seattle. "Basically, we melt polymers and turn them into a thread of a 3D printer … As soon as the Refabricator processes and creates a new thread, we can print new parts."

The space station already has a three-dimensional printer, which is supplied by the company "Made in space". But this device, designed as proof of the concept of 3D printing in space, needs fresh materials from the Earth to be submitted to it.

Chief Investigator Allison Porter with a breakdown Refabricator. Credit: Emmett Givens / NASA

“When all the results were obtained, we found out that there were no significant effects in the field of microgravity,” said Diane Risdon, an In-Space Manufacturing Refator project headed by the Space Flight Center. Marshall NASA in Alabama. “So now we have a 3D printer, we know that it works in space. The next is where do we get the thread? … Does it need to download? We try not to load large masses, so we need to find a steady source of threads.

"On the ISS, we know that there are a lot of people and a lot of plastic bags," she continued. “The crew complains that we are doing with all these bags? They also have packaging – plastic packaging – they use food plastic containers, plastic medical devices, so they periodically round out all this garbage and burn them in space.

“We think our resource is there,” said Risdon. "If we can process them, we will go to our thread."

Another scientific study aboard the Lebed spacecraft will explore the processes in the origin of the solar system, which led to the formation of dust particles, which eventually turned into larger objects, which led to the birth of planets. An experiment led by researchers from the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, “smoothes out specially developed dust with electric current, and then examines the shape and structure of the granules formed at these stages in the absence of gravity,” according to a NASA investigation.

Here is the cargo manifest breakdown provided by NASA:

  • 2,515.5 pounds (1,141 kg) of the cost of the crew
  • 2,301.6 pounds (1,044 kilograms) of scientific research
  • 2076.8 pounds (942 kilograms) of vehicle equipment
  • 253.5 pounds (115 kilograms) of computer resources
  • 68.3 pounds (31 kg) of spacecraft equipment

The supply vessel Cygnus is expected to remain in the Unity module of the International Space Station until mid-February, when it will be released by the station's robotic arm.

Immersed in debris after his departure from the station, Swan will start his engine to ascend to a higher orbit about 300 miles (500 kilometers) above the Earth to deploy two CubeSats.

One of the nanosatellites is MYSat 1, 1U CubeSat the size of a Rubik's cube. The implementation of two payloads – the camera and a lithium-ion battery – MYSat 1 was built by the Institute of Science and Technology. Masdara in Abu Dhabi with the support of the Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and the Al Yah Satellite Communications Company in the United Arab Emirates.

Another CubeSat, set for release in higher orbit, is CHEFSat 2 from the US Naval Research Laboratory.

About the size of the shoe box CHEFSat 2 – is a copy of CubeSat, launched on the cargo mission of Cygnus to the space station in November last year. CHEFSat 2 will test commercial off-the-shelf technologies to evaluate their performance in space, focusing on new radio capabilities.

Cygnus will lower its orbit below the height of the space station after the release of MYSat 1 and CHEFSat 2, focusing on an altitude of about 200 miles (325 kilometers) for separating KickSat 2, a NASA-sponsored CubeSat mission led by Chief Researcher Zack Manchester at Stanford University,

KickSat 2 carries 100 tiny “sprites” – mostly 1.4-inch (3.5-centimeter) square PCBs with integrated power, computing, touch and communication equipment. The mission is a continuation of the KickSat mission, which was launched in 2014, but could not release its sprites in orbit.

The mission will check the limits of miniaturization of satellites, the trend towards accessibility, which has been widely popularized by CubeSat design over the past two decades. But KickSat sprites are a small fraction of the size of CubeSat.

KickSat 2 pushes its sprites at a lower altitude to ensure that printed circuit boards re-enter Earth’s atmosphere within a few weeks, avoiding the possibility of sprites that can be difficult to track using ground-based radars, becoming a long-term threat of space debris to other satellites.

Cygnus was supposed to transport more than half a dozen additional CubeSats inside its internal cabin for possible release through a gateway to the space station. But they were all removed from the cargo manifest and put aside for future launches, according to Scott Higginbotham, NASA's mission director for the Nanosatellites program. Kennedy.

Two of the CubeSats, originally booked for the NG-10 mission, called UNITE and TechEdSat 8 from Purdue University and NASA Research Center, will be launched on the next SpaceX flight to the station no earlier than December 4, Higginbotham said. The rest will be placed on future launches of Northrop Grumman or SpaceX.

The managers also decided not to launch the second payload in the second stage of the Antares launch vehicle.

About 60 ThinSat plates, each the size of a piece of bread, were to be deployed from the Antares rocket shortly after arriving in orbit, well below the height of the space station, where they would quickly return to the atmosphere and burn. Using a standardized form factor, the children from middle school age to university students, they integrated touch and transmit hardware to ThinSats with the support of the Virginia Space Flight Administration, Twiggs Space Laboratory, Northrop Grumman and NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

The first ThinSats were supposed to fly on the NG-10 launch, but now they will be launched in the next Antares mission in April.

Officials agreed to remove ThinSats since launch on Saturday so that the tiny plates did not pose a threat of collision with the Progress supply ship, according to Dale Nash, general manager of Virginia Space. Despite the fact that ThinSats does not pose a threat to the space station itself, Progress revolved around the same height when tiny chips were to be fired.

The supply vessel Cygnus, released on Saturday, is named S.S. John Young, in honor of a NASA astronaut who flew six space missions – Gemini 3, Gemini 10, Apollo 10, Apollo 16, STS-1 and STS-9. Young was the co-pilot of NASA’s Gemini first flight in 1965, went to the moon during the Apollo 16 in 1972, and commanded the first space shuttle mission in 1981. He died in January.

The unpublished Cygnus truck consists of two modules — a service and a motive module, built by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems in Dulles, Va., And a limited logistic module built by Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy.

Swan is designed to re-enter the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean at the end of its mission and incineration, disposal of garbage transported inside.

NG-10 is Swan's first flight, as Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK, which developed and flew over previous cargo missions as part of a 11-launch contract with NASA worth 2.89 billion dollars.

Beginning with NG-12, which was set to start at the end of 2019, Northrop Grumman will perform a subsequent commercial contract for the supply of services, guaranteeing companies at least six additional flights until 2024.

SpaceX is also launching cargo to the space station for NASA, and the space agency attracted Sierra Nevada Corp. to begin supplying the research facility at the end of 2020.

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