Cygnus freighter arrives at space station with only one working solar panel
The private freighter Cygnus arrived early Wednesday morning (Nov. 9) at the International Space Station, despite one of its solar panels failing to deploy after launch.
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, assisted by fellow NASA crew member Josh Cassada, captured the unmanned aerial vehicle Cygnus spacecraft filled with supplies and science experiments with the space station’s robotic arm at 5:20 a.m. EST (1020 GMT) as the two ships sailed high above the Indian Ocean. The robotic arm will now move the capsule to the Unity module on the International Space Station (ISS), where it will be moored to the module’s Earth-facing port later today.
“A huge congratulations to the NG-18 team for their tireless efforts to get Sally Ride to the ISS today for a successful capture,” Mann, who plucked the freighter from space with the station’s robotic arm, said via radio. to Mission Control after the successful capture. The spacecraft is called the SS Sally Ride after astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who died in 2012. Mann quoted Ride’s thoughts on the view from space after the capture. “We definitely agree with her, back out [low Earth orbit]the stars don’t look bigger, but they certainly look brighter.”
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The Northrop Grumman-built Cygnus robot cargo ship after the famous NASA astronaut, launched toward the ISS on Monday (November 7) from Virginia. With a record 4.1 metric tons (3.7 metric tons) of science experiments and supplies, the spacecraft experienced technical difficulties shortly after launch.
The cargo ship managed to deploy only one of its two solar panels after launch. The handlers say it could make the journey to the ISS safely anyway, but mission teams kept an eye out for signs of trouble as it approached the orbiting lab.
“Northrop Grumman is working closely with NASA to monitor and assess the spacecraft ahead of tomorrow’s scheduled arrival, recording and installation at the space station,” NASA officials said in an update (opens in new tab) on Tuesday evening (November 8). “Mission teams are also planning additional inspections of the cargo spacecraft during the approach and after the capture.”
Three different robotic spacecraft transport to the ISS today: Cygnus, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, and Russia’s Progress vehicle.
Cygnus and Progress burn up in Earth’s atmosphere after completing their delivery missions, but Dragon returns for safe ocean splash and future reuse.
Mike Wall is the author of “Outside (opens in new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or facebook (opens in new tab).
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