Cygnus Completes Mission as Orbital Preps for December Cargo Run

Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Dulles, VA, 23 October 2013 (ORB PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today confirmed that its Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand at approximately 2:15 p.m. (EDT). Cygnus unberthed from the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday following its 23-day stay at the station. The successful conclusion to its demonstration mission also completes the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) joint research and development initiative with NASA. Orbital is now ready to begin regularly scheduled resupply flights to the station later this year as part of a $1.9 billion Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.

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Cygnus Has Left the Station

Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A cargo resupply demonstration mission by Orbital Sciences Corp. drew to a close Tuesday as Expedition 37 crew members aboard the International Space Station detached and released the Dulles, Va., company’s Cygnus spacecraft from the orbiting laboratory.

Cygnus had been attached to the space station’s Harmony module for 23 days. The spacecraft delivered about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food, clothing and student experiments. Future Cygnus flights will ensure a robust national capability to deliver critical science research to orbit, significantly increasing NASA’s ability to conduct new science investigations to the only laboratory in microgravity.

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NASA TV Coverage Set Cygnus and ATV Departures, Soyuz Launch Preparations

Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of the newest U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft to deliver supplies to the International Space Station and undocking of the fourth European Space Agency cargo vehicle.

Coverage for departure of the Cygnus spacecraft begins at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 22. The spacecraft has been attached to the space station since Sept. 29 on a demonstration cargo resupply mission by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.

Coverage for departure of the fourth European Space Agency (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4) cargo spacecraft begins at 4:45 a.m.  Monday, Oct. 28.

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ISPCS Panel: When Government is Ready to Buy

ispcs_logoISPCS Panel Discussion
When Government is Ready to Buy…

Moderator: Wayne Hale

Speakers:

  • John Mulholland, Vice President/ Program Manager, Boeing Commercial Programs
  • Mike Pinkston, Senior Vice President, Antares Program, Orbital Sciences Corporation
  • Lee “Bru” Archambault, Director of Flight Operations, Dream Chaser Program, Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Andrew Aldrin, DIrector of Business Development, United Launch Alliance

TWEETS

  • Former astronaut Michael “LA” Lopez-Alegria introducing the next panel: “When Government is Ready to Buy…” #ISPCS pic.twitter.com/blQKjXxWnF (Suzi Gordon ‏@suzigordon)
  • Now up at #ISPCS. Panel on “When government is Ready to Buy.” @waynehale moderator. He has really flourished in post-NASA career. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)
  • Note to self: quit talking about how #ISS PARTNERSHIP deserves Noble Peace Prize & find way to make it happen! (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)

Cygnus Performing Well as Controllers Plan Oct. 23 Re-entry

cygnus_berthed_iss
Updated Cygnus Reentry Timeline

Via Orbital Sciences Corporation
October 11, 2013

Orbital’s Cygnus team has updated its thruster burn schedule for the spacecraft’s controlled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Following its unberthing and departure from the ISS on October 22 at approximately 6:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. respectively, Cygnus is now expected to reenter the atmosphere on October 23rd at approximately 2:18 p.m. (eastern) over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.

Editor’s Note — Here are some additional updates on the mission:

NASASpaceFlight.com says that Cygnus is performing well while docked to the station, with the exception of erratic performance by the ship’s cabin fan. That anomaly does not appear to be affecting the activities of the crew, which has completed unloading cargo and is now filling the ship with trash that will be disposed of when Cygnus burns up in the atmosphere.

Space News reports  that Orbital’s first paid cargo mission to the station will take place in late December or early January. Original plans were to launch the next Cygnus in early December. Orbital officials say the government shutdown has had no impact on mission preparation’s even though NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF). Orbital employees have been able to access the state-run Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS)  at WFF during the budget impasse.

ISS Crew Completes Unloading of Cygnus Cargo

Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus Mission Update
Via Orbital Sciences Corporation

The Expedition 37 crew aboard the International Space Station has completed unloading the cargo from the Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) Cygnus and has loaded the first layer of waste for disposal. The crew will be working this week loading the second layer of trash. The third layer is expected to be loaded the week of 10/14, followed by PCM close out. Unberthing from the station is expected on October 22, with reentry into Earth’s atmosphere on October 24.

Orbital Gets NASA OK for Commercial Cargo Delivery Flight

The open hatch to the Cygnus freighter. (Credit: NASA)
The open hatch to the Cygnus freighter. (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station (ISS) astronauts opened the hatch to the newly arrived Cygnus freighter on Monday and began unloading cargo as NASA officials gave Orbital Sciences Corporation permission to proceed with a commercial cargo delivery flight in two month’s time.

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Praise for Success of Cygnus Mission

csf_logo_newestCommercial Spaceflight Federation

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds the hard work of the teams at NASA, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Aerojet Rocketdyne and all of the many contractors involved on the success of their second COTS demonstration mission. On September 18, an Aerojet Rocketdyne dual AJ26 engine system successfully boosted Orbital’s Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus spacecraft. Today, Cygnus successfully berthed with the International Space Station and delivered approximately 1,300 lb. of cargo.

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Cygnus Berthed at International Space Station

Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

Dulles, VA 29 September 2013 (OSC PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that its Cygnus™ cargo logistics spacecraft successfully completed its rendezvous and approach maneuvers with the International Space Station (ISS) and was grappled and berthed with the station by the Expedition 37 astronaut crew earlier this morning.

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NASA TV to Cover Cygnus Rendezvous and Berthing at ISS

Artist's conception of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus freighter approaching the International Space Station.
Artist’s conception of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus freighter approaching the International Space Station.

NASA and its International Space Station partners have approved a Sunday, Sept. 29, target arrival of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft on its demonstration cargo resupply mission to the space station.

Sunday, September 29

4:30 a.m. – Cygnus rendezvous, grapple and berthing coverage begins on NASA Television.

7:15 a.m. – Grapple of Cygnus by International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm

9:15 a.m.
– Cygnus berthing to Earth-facing port of Harmony node begins
~11:20 a.m. – Cygnus berthing complete (2nd stage capture)

1 p.m. – Cygnus Post-Capture News Conference

For the latest schedule for spacecraft capture and installation, as well as the post-berthing news conference, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/19M65lk

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Cygnus Rendezvous with ISS Set for Sunday

Illustration of Cygnus in orbit. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
Illustration of Cygnus in orbit. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Cygnus Mission Update
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Via Orbital Sciences Corporation

The Cygnus spacecraft remains healthy in-orbit, with all major on-board systems performing as expected. Over the past several days, the Cygnus engineering team developed, validated and uploaded the one-line software “patch” that resolved the GPS data roll-over discrepancy that was identified during the initial approach to the ISS last Saturday.

Orbital and NASA are currently discussing the best rendezvous opportunity, with the current trajectory plan supporting Sunday morning, September 29 as the next opportunity to rendezvous with and approach the ISS. This schedule is still subject to final review and approval by the NASA and Orbital teams.

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Cygnus Rendezvous Postponed Until After Crew Arrrival

Illustration of Cygnus in orbit. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
Illustration of Cygnus in orbit. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Cygnus In-Orbit Update
Via Orbital Sciences Corporation
Monday, September 23, 2013

This morning, Orbital and NASA together decided to postpone the approach, rendezvous, grapple and berthing operations of the Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft with the International Space Station until after the upcoming Soyuz crew operations are complete. The Soyuz crew is due to arrive at the ISS very late on Wednesday, September 25. The earliest possible date for the next Cygnus approach and rendezvous with the ISS would be Saturday, September 28. An exact schedule will be determined following the successful completion of Soyuz operations.

Over the past 24 hours, the Orbital team developed and tested a software fix for the data format mismatch that necessitated a postponement of the first rendezvous operation that was scheduled for the early morning of September 22. However, that process, together with the impending Soyuz crew operations, resulted in a tight schedule to the point that both Orbital and NASA felt it was the right decision to postpone the Cygnus approach and rendezvous until after Soyuz operations.

“This new schedule will allow the Orbital operations team to carefully plan and be well-rested before restarting the critical final approach to the space station. Meanwhile, Cygnus has all the resources needed to remain in orbit for an extended period of time,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Advanced Programs Group.

Cygnus Rendezvous Delayed 48 Hours

Illustration of Cygnus in orbit. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
Illustration of Cygnus in orbit. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Cygnus Mission Update
Via NASA
September 22, 2013 – 4:17 a.m. EDT

Orbital Sciences has confirmed Sunday morning, around 1:30 a.m. EDT, its Cygnus spacecraft established direct data contact with the International Space Station (ISS) and found that some of the data received had values that it did not expect, causing Cygnus to reject the data. This mandated an interruption of the approach sequence. Orbital has subsequently found the causes of this discrepancy and is developing a software fix. The minimum turnaround time to resume the approach to the ISS following an interruption such as this is approximately 48 hours due to orbital mechanics of the approach trajectory.

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Cygnus Flies Smoothly Toward ISS Rendezvous on Sunday Morning

Illustration of Cygnus in orbit. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
Illustration of Cygnus in orbit. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Cygnus Mission Update
Via Orbital Sciences Corporation & NASA

As of mid-day today, Cygnus continues to perform well in orbit, remaining on track for its rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station tomorrow morning. At noon today, the Cygnus spacecraft was approximately 400 km behind and 4 km below the ISS, closing the distance between the two at a rate of about 24 km per hour.

NASA will begin live television coverage of Cygnus’ approach to the station at 4:30 a.m. (EDT) and will continue through the grapple and berthing activities that are expected to last until late morning. Capture is scheduled for about 7:17 a.m. EDT with installation of the craft beginning about 9 a.m. NASA TV can be found at www.nasa.gov/ntv.

There is also a press conference conference scheduled for 1:00 p.m. that will be carried live on NASA TV.

How to Track the Flight of Cygnus

Artist's conception of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus freighter approaching the International Space Station.
Artist’s conception of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus freighter approaching the International Space Station.

Cygnus Mission Update
Via Orbital Sciences Corporation

Our friends at AGI have developed a slick interactive 2D/3D simulation that allows you to track in real-time the location of Cygnus as it orbits the Earth during its rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station. The simulation is built on AGI’s Cesium platform, which is supported by recent versions of Chrome, Firefox and Opera. Internet Explorer is supported by using the Chrome Frame plugin. Safari is not currently supported. Read more at the Cesium FAQ page: http://cesium.agi.com/FAQ.html

Here is the link to the Cygnus simulation: http://cesium.agi.com/cygnus/