Cargo spacecraft docks at ISS despite running on one solar panel

Cargo spacecraft docks at ISS despite running on one solar panel

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A cargo spacecraft successfully docked at the International Space Station on Wednesday morning, despite making its two-day tour through space with only one functioning solar panel.

US defense contractor Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 8,200 pounds of science experiments and supplies for the astronauts aboard the ISS, lifted off Monday from NASA’s Wallops Island launch site, Virginia, atop an Antares rocket. .

A few hours after Cygnus entered orbit and broke away from the rocket, one of the spacecraft’s two solar panels failed to deploy, NASA announced.

Teams on the ground initially tried to fix the problem, hoping to get the solar panel open, but they were unsuccessful, according to one NASA statement released Tuesday. NASA and Northrop Grumman, who designed and built the Cygnus capsule, chose to abandon these efforts to focus on conducting a safe encounter with the ISS, noting that the spacecraft already had sufficient power to carry its mission. complete the journey. Northrop Grumman did not immediately respond to a request for additional information on Tuesday night.

“The Cygnus team is gathering information on why the second array didn’t deploy as planned,” NASA’s Tuesday… noted.

Docking took place at 5:20 a.m. ET Wednesday morning as the ISS flew over the Indian Ocean.

As the Cygnus capsule approached the ISS, NASA astronaut Nicole Mann used the space station’s robotic arm to snap the vehicle into place and drag it to the docking port.

The Cygnus cargo spacecraft, shortly before docking at the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Orbital ATK, an aerospace and defense company acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2017, was selected in 2014 along with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop vehicles that can carry cargo to the ISS. The Cygnus spacecraft has been flying routine cargo missions to the ISS for years and has had 18 successful missions.

It also scored a failure. In 2014, the Antares rocket, which was also developed by Orbital ATK, exploded shortly after takeoff, destroy the spacecraft and ground the Cygnus program for over a year.

The Cygnus capsule used for this week’s mission was called the SS Sally Ride, a nod to the first American woman to fly to space. NASA said the resupply pod “will remain in the space station until January before taking off for a destructive return to Earth’s atmosphere.”

The cargo on board this mission contains supplies that exceed 250 science experiments and other research efforts, according to NASA. It also carries fresh fruits and vegetables for the crew, as well as holiday treats.

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