Northrop Grumman launches Cygnus cargo ship to space station with supplies and ‘snacks’ for crew

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket successfully put the space station’s cargo ship into orbit early Monday morning, and one of the two solar arrays failed to deploy properly, but officials said the spacecraft had failed. It said it had enough power to complete a two-day rendezvous.

The state of the array and the cause of the problem were not immediately apparent. Dina Contera, the space station’s operations integration manager, said a final decision on whether to proceed with the capture and anchorage of the Cygnus spacecraft on Wednesday will not be made until after a technical analysis.

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, using a Ukrainian-built first stage and powered by two Russian-made rocket engines, will ascend from Wallops Island, Virginia, and begin the space station cargo flight. Northrop Grumman and Firefly Aerospace are developing a new All-American rocket to replace the Antares after its final flight next March.

Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now

But engineers will get a good look at the array during the freighter’s final approach, and Contella said he’s optimistic that Northrop Grumman will eventually deploy the circular panels and lock them in place. said.

“Currently, the array is not deployed,” she said. “So the team is evaluating the data and trying to figure out the next steps. In fact, I am very hopeful that Northrop will find a way to fully deploy the array. It’s your chance.”

The two Russian-made RD-181 engines on the Antares 230+ rocket, which ran a day late due to a fire alarm that forced Northrop Grumman engineers to evacuate the control center on Sunday morning ET. At 5:32, I ignited and pushed the booster away from midfield. Atlantic his regional spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

The rocket arced southeast, smoothly accelerating as the Ukrainian-built first stage consumed propellant and lost weight, rising directly into the orbital plane of the space station. Nine minutes after she took off, the Cygnus freighter was released and flew under her own power.

Space Station Systems Engineering and Integration Manager Jeff Arend said: “I am happy that Cygnus is on its way to the ISS.”

If all goes well, the cargo ship will catch up with the space station early Wednesday, pull up to within about 30 feet, hold its position, and be secured to a grapple fixture by Nicole Mann, who operates the lab’s robotic arm.

File photo showing the Cygnus freighter just before it was captured by the space station’s robotic arm. One of his two circular solar arrays on Cygnus, which launched Monday, failed to deploy properly.


At that point, the flight controller at Houston’s Johnson Space Center will take over arm operations and pull Cygnus in for an earth-facing port on the station’s central Unity module. However, this assumes that a permit is required to process solar arrays that may be stored or partially deployed.

Aboard the cargo ship: 3,608 pounds of crew supplies, 1,873 pounds of research gear, 2,375 pounds of space station hardware, 317 pounds of computer components and spacewalk equipment (to upgrade the lab’s solar power system). including hardware needed for future excursions).

The manifesto also includes some “very well-deserved treats for the crew,” Arend said.

“They don’t just have a regular menu, but they also have special requests like peanut butter, olives, some cheeses, and even pumpkin spice cappuccinos.” I also put ice cream in the freezer.”

The launch was the last Antares 230+ flight for Northrop Grumman and Firefly Aerospace to develop a new rocket following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the imposition of US sanctions, and the subsequent termination of delivery of RD-181. First stage made in Ukraine.

The first stage used for Monday’s launch, and another Antares flight scheduled for next March, were already on hand when hardware deliveries were disrupted following the Russian invasion.

In its transition to new rockets, Northrop Grumman plans to launch three Cygnus flights using SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets before the Antares 330 debuts across the United States in late 2024. Northrop Grumman launches Cygnus cargo ship to space station with supplies and ‘snacks’ for crew

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