Cygnus freighter tries to reach ISS with only 1 solar panel in use
A private cargo ship’s journey to the International Space Station (ISS) does not go as planned.
Northop Grumman’s Robot Cygnus Freighter launched towards the ISS this morning (November 7) from Virginia, packed with more than 4.1 metric tons (3.7 metric tons) of food and other supplies for the astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory.
The launch went smoothly, but Cygnus ran into some problems after separating from its Antares rocket ride: the freighter managed to deploy only one of its two solar panels.
Members of the mission team are working to fix the malfunction, but Cygnus may still be able to make its way to the space station for a scheduled meeting on Wednesday (Nov. 9), even if no resolution is found.
“Northrop Grumman has reported to NASA that Cygnus has sufficient power to International Space Station on Wednesday, Nov. 9 to complete its primary mission, and NASA is assessing this and the configuration needed for capture and docking,” NASA officials wrote in a statement. short update today (opens in new tab).
Related: Facts about the International Space Station
This Cygnus vehicle, called the SS Sally Ride after the first American woman reaches space, the ISS will deliver more payload in mass than any previous Northop Grumman freighter, if all goes according to plan.
SS Sally Ride’s freight manifest includes 3,608 pounds (1,637 kilograms) of crew supplies, 2,375 pounds (1,077 kg) of vehicle hardware, 1,873 pounds (850 kg) of scientific equipment, 145 pounds (66 kg) of spacewalking equipment and 172 pounds (78 kg) of computer resources, NASA said. officials.
One of the many science experiments flying on the freighter is a 3D printer known as the BioFabrication Facility (opens in new tab)which is designed to print organ-like tissues in microgravity, and a study that will assess how the space environment affects ovarian cells.
Cygnus is one of three robotic spacecraft currently carrying cargo to the ISS, along with Russia’s Progress vehicle and the Dragon capsule from SpaceX.
Cygnus and Progress are replaceable craft that burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when their time in orbit is over. Dragonon the other hand, it returns to Earth in one piece for 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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