Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft is being captured live on NASA television as it was launched on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Monday at 5:32 a.m. EST.
On February 21, 2022, this image of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter approaching the International Space Station shows its conspicuous, cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays.
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to catch Cygnus at around 5:05 a.m., with NASA astronaut Josh Cassada serving as a backup. The spacecraft will be mounted on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port following capture.
This is NASA’s 18th commercial resupply trip to the International Space Station carried out by Northrop Grumman. 8,200 pounds of scientific research and cargo are being transported by the Cygnus spaceship to the lab in orbit.
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In memory of the late NASA astronaut, scientist, and first American woman to fly in space, the spacecraft is known as the S.S. Sally Ride. Starting at 7:15 a.m., NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website will all offer live coverage of the spacecraft assembly.
According to the NASA statement, Northrop said the Cygnus had sufficient power to rendezvous with the station as planned on early November 9, allowing the station’s robotic arm to capture and berth it. NASA said it was “assessing” that information.
“It had an array that didn’t deploy, so Northrop Grumman is working on it right now to get that deployed, and of course, we’re assessing the capture and berthing in case it does not deploy,” said Dina Contella, operations integration manager for the ISS at NASA, at a press briefing on November 7.
She said that the deployment of the array happens in stages. She stated that Northrop was heading the team’s efforts to evaluate the data they currently had and choose their next course of action.
However, Contella further stated that the station program would like to have a better understanding of the array’s condition before moving forward with a capture if the array does not deploy before Cygnus reaches the ISS. When being captured or berthed, “if it ends up partially deployed,” she warned, “it could wobble or come open.” As the event draws near, we’ll be doing those kinds of activities and, if necessary, risk assessments.