Cygnus freighter reaches ISS with covered solar panel • The Register

Cygnus freighter reaches ISS with covered solar panel • The Register

A Cygnus freighter has successfully reached the International Space Station, despite the failure of half of its solar panels.

The Cygnus vehicle, built by Northrop Grumman and named SS Sally Ride — after the late physicist and first American woman to fly into space in 1983 — was launched Monday atop the company’s Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional. Spaceport in Virginia.

Mission Control later found that one of the two solar panels was malfunctioning. Engineers gave up trying to solve the problem, saying the spacecraft had enough power to reach the ISS in its less-than-ideal state. Fortunately, they were right, and as it got closer, astronaut Nicole Mann brought it in using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm on Wednesday at 0520 ET (1020 UTC).

“During a rocket stage separation event, debris from an Antares acoustic blanket became trapped in one of the Cygnus solar panels, preventing it from opening,” said Cyrus Dhalla, vice president and general manager, Tactical Space Systems at Northrop Grumman. , said in a statement. “Successful docking was achieved thanks to Cygnus’ robust design and the resilience and ingenuity of the NASA and Northrop Grumman teams.”

The Cygnus freighter is carrying 3719.5 kg (8,200 pounds) of cargo and science experiments. The experiments include: human heart cells and a partial human knee meniscus (astronauts will use a 3D bioprinter to help scientists compare the differences between human tissues printed in microgravity and on Earth); bovine ovarian cells (which could one day enhance fertility treatments in space); mudflow samples (which will be studied to understand how mudflows after wildfires can knock down heavy boulders and debris and destroy buildings); and three cubes.

The Cubesats are launched to observe the growth of the earth and agriculture. Cygnus also brought along a mounting bracket, which astronauts will attach to the starboard side of the station’s truss structure during a spacewalk scheduled for next week. The instrument will also be used to install a new set of solar panels later this year.

The vehicle will remain attached to the ISS until January and will be filled with debris before being sent back to Earth to be destroyed upon reentry. ®

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