From: Wallops Flight Facility
Posted: Monday, May 14, 2018
NASA commercial cargo provider Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch its ninth contracted mission to the International Space Station at 5:04 a.m. EDT Sunday, May 20 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Live launch coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
NASA TV also will air two prelaunch briefings beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 19. Mission managers will provide an overview and status of launch operations, and at 1 p.m. scientists and researchers will discuss some of the investigations to be delivered to the station. The briefings also will be streamed live on the agency’s website.
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft will launch on the company’s Antares rocket from Pad 0A of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, located at Wallops. Coverage of the spacecraft’s solar array deployment will begin at 6:15 a.m. and a post-launch briefing from the launch site will follow at 7:30 a.m.
Under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, Cygnus will carry about 7,400 pounds of science and research to the space station in support of dozens of research investigations, as well as crew supplies and hardware.
Cygnus will carry a physics laboratory to observe atoms in extreme cold and a facility that will be the first commercial European opportunity to conduct research in space. Other experiments will advance genetic sequencing of micro-organisms aboard the station and validate a system to extract one liquid from another. The spacecraft will also transport several CubeSats to conduct a variety of missions, from Earth science missions and a technology demonstration for laser communications, to mapping a gas surrounding our Milky Way galaxy.
With a May 20 launch, the spacecraft will arrive at the station on Thursday, May 24. NASA TV coverage of Cygnus’ rendezvous and capture will begin at 3:45 a.m. Capture is scheduled for 5:20 a.m. as Expedition 55 Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA will grapple the spacecraft, backed up by Ricky Arnold of NASA. NASA astronaut Drew Feustel will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach for capture. They will use the space station’s robotic Canadarm2 to take hold of the spacecraft and after Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module. NASA TV coverage resumes for installation operations at 7:30 a.m.
Cygnus will remain at the space station until July 15, when the spacecraft will depart the station, deploy NanoRacks’ customer CubeSats, and then dispose of several tons of trash during its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
This Cygnus spacecraft is dubbed the S.S. J.R. Thompson, a distinguished leader in the aerospace industry as former NASA deputy administrator and a member of Orbital ATK for more than 20 years. Throughout his life, Thompson held prominent positions at Orbital and NASA, including at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
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