The next Cygnus resupply mission to the International Space Station set for liftoff Wednesday from Virginia’s Eastern Shore will introduce new capabilities for the commercial cargo freighter, including a longer operating life enabled by fuel-saving gyroscopes to support an extended mission months after the spacecraft departs the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman officials said.
Fifteen CubeSats owned by NASA, Spire Global, and U.S. research institutions launched aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo ship in May have been released into orbit, beginning missions to demonstrate miniaturized, low-cost Earth science instruments and join a commercial network of weather-monitoring nanosatellites.
A commercial Cygnus resupply craft that received a new corporate owner while berthed at the International Space Station — thanks to Northrop Grumman’s acquisition of Orbital ATK in June — departed the research complex Sunday. The supply ship was released by Canadarm 2 on the space station at 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT).
An Orbital ATK Antares rocket streaked into orbit early Monday from Wallops Island, Virginia, with a commercial Cygnus cargo craft carrying a quantum research experiment, an investigation into the properties of concrete in space, fresh food and other provisions for the International Space Station’s six-person crew.