WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — NASA and Northrop Grumman are teaming as much as launch a cargo capsule to the Worldwide House Station (ISS) right this moment (Feb. 20) and you may watch the motion dwell on-line.
The Cygnus NG-15 spacecraft will blast off atop a two-stage Antares rocket from Pad 09A at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 12:36 p.m. EST (17361736 GMT).
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Northrop Grumman is considered one of NASA’s industrial companions that retains the area station well-stocked with provides as a part of the company’s industrial cargo resupply program. The silvery spacecraft is loaded with eight,200 lbs. (three,700 kilograms) of crew provides, hardware and analysis experiments for the Expedition 64 crew.
Following liftoff, the Cygnus will deploy 30 small Skinny Sats as a part of a scholar program with Virginia’s Industrial House Flight Authority. It can then spend two days in area chasing after the Worldwide House Station (ISS). As soon as it arrives, the spacecraft will berth to the orbital outpost with the assistance of the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm.
Northrop Grumman constructed each the rocket and the spacecraft, and the contractor has a practice of naming every of its cargo capsules after a person who made a big contribution to human spaceflight. For this mission, the Cygnus is named the S.S. Katherine Johnson, after the mathematician whose calculations helped make John Glenn the primary American to orbit Earth, in 1962. The S.S. Katherine Johnson will take her personal flight precisely 59 years later to the day.
Johnson labored as a human laptop for NASA’s predecessor, the Nationwide Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), earlier than shifting to the House Activity Group at NASA’s Langley Analysis Middle in Virginia after the company was formally based in 1958. She died at the age of 101 on Feb. 24, 2020.
The S.S. Katherine Johnson will stay hooked up to the area station for roughly three months NASA officers stated throughout a pre-launch information briefing on Friday (Feb. 19). On the finish of its mission, area station astronauts will load it with trash and different disposable materials earlier than sending it off for a damaging reentry into the Earth’s ambiance. (The freighter will fritter away within the ambiance and poses no menace to anybody on Earth.)
Winter snow storms affected a lot of the nation this week, together with Texas and Virginia, nonetheless, NASA’s group at Wallops and in Texas — some with out energy and water — have been in a position to work by the challenges that got here together with the storms, to make sure the mission was in a position to get off the bottom.
“I wished to thank my Texas colleagues who’ve been working with out energy and water this week,” stated Joel Montalbano, NASA’s supervisor of the Worldwide House Station Program. “And the parents at Johnson House Middle operations who’ve made certain that Mission Management stays operational.”
Forward of Saturday’s launch, the group ran by a mission costume rehearsal, throughout which the launch conductors put the launch group by its paces and ranging off-nominal eventualities in case one thing goes fallacious on launch day. Then on Tuesday (Feb. 16), the rocket and spacecraft rolled to the pad and went by some system checkouts.
On Thursday, the groups lowered the rocket again to horizontal with the intention to open up the spacecraft for some last-minute payloads. These are time-sensitive payloads (like these coping with organic sciences) that can’t sit contained in the cargo craft for too lengthy.
Kurt Eberly of Northrop Grumman says that it is a new functionality of the Antares rocket, that was added particularly for the corporate’s second industrial resupply providers contract (CRS-2) with NASA. The rocket now flies in what the corporate calls its 230+ configuration, which implies that it now has late load capabilities in addition to various cargo mass.
Climate forecasters have predicted there is a 75% chance of favorable climate situations on Saturday. The first issues are floor winds and cumulus clouds. If wanted, there are a number of backup launch alternatives, with the primary being on Sunday (Feb. 21) at 12:14 p.m. EDT (1714 GMT).
Eberly says that the mission does have wind and temperature constraints, because the rocket can’t launch if the temperature goes beneath 20 levels Fahrenheit (-7 levels Celsius) and if the bottom winds are above 29 knots. The climate ought to be throughout the acceptable limits on launch day, in keeping with the parents who’re overseeing the mission at Wallops.
“We’re very proud and excited to be part of one other industrial resupply mission,” Shannon Fitzpatrick, chief of the vary and mission administration at Wallops, stated throughout Friday’s briefing. “Vary is inexperienced, all techniques are nominal and we sit up for a fantastic noon launch.”
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