Cygnus spacecraft, called S.S. John Young, in the space station robot arm's Monday. Credit: NASA / Serena Auñón Chancellor Within…
Cygnus spacecraft, called S.S. John Young, in the space station robot arm’s Monday. Credit: NASA / Serena Auñón Chancellor
Within a two-day hunt launched from Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a commercial Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station arrived Monday with more than 7,200 pounds of deliveries and experiments, the other carrier to reach the breakthrough complex in 15 hours.
A Russian Progress refueling and rescue boat docked at the Space Station at 2:28 AM (1928 GMT) Sunday with nearly three tons of fuel, water and regulations for the lab’s three-person crew.
Just 15 hours later, at 5:28 EST (1028 GMT), the station’s robot arm stopped Northrop Grumman Cygnus Spacecraft when it flew into a prison position about 30 feet or 10 feet below the station.
NASA air traffic controller Serena Auñón Chancellor was in control of the nearly 58-foot-built robot arm for arresting Cygnus delivery ships Monday. She handed over the arm to ground control to maneuver the boat to a boat position at the station’s Unity module where a series of locks and 16 bolts drove closed to connect the vehicle to the exit at. 7:31 AM EST (1231 GMT).
Cygnus spacecraft, named SS John Young to honor the former Gemini, Apollo and Spacecraft astronaut, died in January, is scheduled to stay at the station until mid February. During the nearly three month stay, astronauts will pack £ 7,215 (3,273 kg) of supplies and attempts stowed inside the ship’s pressurized passenger compartment, built by Thales Alenia Space in Italy, and then replace items with the trash bin for disposal.
Space station commander Alexander Gerst tweeted pictures of Cygnus spacecraft’s arrival.
The recurring arrivals on Sundays and Mondays set a record the shortest time between arriving cargo ship at the space station.
Onboard Cygnus Cygnus includes a plastic recycling unit and a 3D printer built to develop space manufacturing capacity and an experiment that studies how the human body is capable of experiencing motion, orientation and distance changes in microgravity.
The recycling unit and the printer, called Refabricator, is a technological demo designed to analyze how future space missions could make tools and spare parts on board without having to revive from the ground. It was developed by Tethers Unlimited under contract to NASA.
“At Tethers, we developed, designed and tested the Refabricator,” said Allison Porter, airline director at the company based in Seattle. “Basically, we melt down polymers and make them a 3D printer filament … When recycling is recycled and new filament wires, we can print new parts.”
The space already has a 3D printer on board a company called Made in Space. However, the device, intended as proof of the concept of 3D printing in space, needs fresh material from the ground to be fed into it.
Chief investigator Allison Porter with the Refabricator airline. Credit: Emmett Givens / NASA
“When all the results were in, we discovered that there were no significant microgravity effects for technology,” said Diane Risdon, project manager for space production refiner at NASA Space Shuttle Center in Marshall, Alabama. “So now we have our 3D printer, we know it works in space. Next thing is where do we get the filament? … Do we need to upload it?” We try to avoid massive loads of charge so we need to find one Sustainable source for filament.
“At ISS we know there are lots and lots of plastic bags,” she continued. “The crew complains, what do we do with all these baggies? They also have packages – plastic packaging – they use plastic containers, plastic medical devices, so they regularly rinse all this trash and burn them in space.
“We think there is our resource,” said Risdon. “If we can recycle these, then we’re going to get our filament.”
Another scientific investigation aboard Cygnus spacecraft will investigate the processes at the origin of the solar system, which led to the formation of dust particles that eventually became larger objects, leading to the birth of the planets. The experiment, led by scientists at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany “sweeps a specially formulated dust with an electrical current, then studies the shape and structure of pellets formed from these stages in the absence of gravity,” according to a NASA survey.
Here is a summary of the cargo manifesto provided by NASA:
Loaded with the trash after departure from the station, Cygnus will burn his engine to climb into a higher track approximately 300 miles above ground to distribute two CubeSats.
One of the nanosatellites is MYSat 1, a 1U CubeSat around the size of a Rubik’s cube. Carry two payload camera and a lithium-ion battery – MYSat 1 was built by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, supported by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and Al Yah Satellite Communications Company in the United Arab Emirates.  The other CubeSat set-up for higher-level tripping is CHEFSat 2 from the US Naval Research Laboratory.
About the size of a shoe box, CHEFSat 2 is a copy of a CubeSat launched on a Cygnus cargo mission to the space station by November. CHEFSat 2 will test commercial off-shelf technology to evaluate their performance in space, focusing on new radio communications capabilities.
Cygnus lowers its orbit under space station height after releasing MYSat 1 and CHEFSat 2 and reaches a height of approximately 200 miles (325 kilometers) for the separation of KickSat 2, a NASA-sponsored CubeSat mission led by the chief scientist Zac Manchester at Stanford University.
KickSat 2 carries 100 small “sprites” – essentially 1.4 inch (3.5 centimeter) square printed circuit boards with built-in power, data processing, sensing and communication equipment. The mission is a follow-up to the KickSat mission launched in 2014, but failed to release its sprites in circulation.
The mission will test the limits of satellite mining, a trend towards affordable prices that are very popular with the CubeSat design over the past two decades. But KickSats sprites are a small fraction of the size of a CubeSat.
KickSat 2 will spray down its sprites at a lower altitude to ensure that the circuit board enters the Earth’s atmosphere in a few weeks, avoiding the possibility of sprites, which can be difficult to track earth-based radar, become a long-term space rubbish threat to other satellites.
Cygnus was supposed to carry more than half a dozen additional CubeSats in his inner cabin for any trigger through an airlock at the space station. But they were all removed from the cargo manifesto and postponed to future launches, according to Scott Higginbotham, a Head of Mission for NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites Program at Kennedy Space Center.
Two of the CubeSats originally booked to fly on NG-10 missions – UNITE and TechEdSat 8 from Purdue University and NASA’s Ames Research Center – will launch on SpaceX’s next resupply flight to the station earlier than December 4, Higginbotham said. The others will be placed on future Northrop Grumman or SpaceX launches.
NG-10 is the first Cygnus flight since Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK, which developed and flew the previous cargo visits during a 11-launch contract with NASA valued at $ 2.89 billion.
Starting NG-12, launched for the launch in late 2019, Northrop Grumman will launch a subsequent commercial resupply service contract, which guarantees the company at least six additional flights by 2024.
SpaceX also launches the cargo to the space station for NASA, and the Space Agency has lost Sierra Nevada Corp. to begin reviving the research complex since 2020.
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