Cygnus spacecraft reaches ISS with one functioning solar system
the SS Sally Ride is safely docked at the International Space Station after a nerve-wracking journey in which one of its two solar panels was not deployed.
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Northrop Grumman’s replaceable freighter was launched on Monday, November 7, carrying 8,200 pounds of cargo to the ISS. On the way to the orbiting space station, however, Cygnus capsule cannot be deployed one of its two solar panels, which collects power for its journey through space. “Northrop Grumman is collecting data on the deployment of the second array and is working closely with NASA,” says the space agency wrote Monday in a blog post.
Despite having only one fully deployed solar panel, the Cygnus spacecraft arrived safely at the ISS at 5:20 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to a NASA blog post. As the cargo capsule approached the station, NASA astronaut Nicole Mann used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grab the vehicle and maneuver it to the dock of the station. This is standard operating procedure for capturing Cygnus and not the result of the solar panel anomaly.
The 17-meter-long Canadian arm has a “hand” that astronauts use to grip objects and even the ISS itself. After Mann commanded the robotic arm from the ISS, ground traffic controllers took over to direct the capsule and dock at the station’s Unity module, NASA wrote.
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A reason for the malfunction has not yet been disclosed. “To remain focused on the spacecraft’s arrival at the station, Northrop Grumman and NASA made the determination not to deploy the second solar array after initial attempts to deploy it were unsuccessful,” the space agency said.
This is Northrop Grumman’s 18th resupply mission to the ISS as part of its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, in which it delivers crew supplies, equipment, and science experiments to the orbiting station. The NG-18 Cygnus spacecraft was named after Sally Ridethe first American woman to reach space, an achievement she has delivered in 1983.
The cargo capsule delivered a diverse payload that includes a 3D printer to generate human tissue, a plant-growing experiment in space and the first satellite developed by Uganda and Zimbabwe. The cargo ship will remain attached to the ISS until it is fiery removal in the Earth’s atmosphere in January.
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