United Launch Alliance has granted “flight clearance” for its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket to resume satellite deployments after linking an errant valve with the fuel usage crunch on its most recent mission and tweaking subsequent vehicles.
Bidding farewell to the International Space Station today, the commercial Cygnus cargo ship separated to a safe distance before igniting an intentional fire in microgravity like never before, all in the name of science.
Concluding 80 days attached the International Space Station, the commercial Cygnus cargo ship will be detached to fly away Tuesday for an unprecedented onboard fire experiment before re-entering the atmosphere next week.
With the performance hit on the Atlas 5 rocket’s most recent flight last month now isolated to a faulty valve, preparations to resume the manifest are underway as United Launch Alliance workers stack the next booster for blastoff this summer.
The detective work into the Atlas 5 rocket’s first stage performance trouble during the Cygnus cargo ship launch a week ago has implicated the fuel system as the likely culprit for using up the liquid oxygen supply too quickly.
This collection of official NASA photographs captures the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket rolling to the pad on Monday, successfully blasting off Tuesday and the Cygnus freighter arriving at the International Space Station on Saturday morning.