Orbital ATK Launches Cargo Delivery Mission to the ISS for NASA
May 23, 2018
ATK has successfully launched the company’s Antares rocket carrying its
Cygnus spacecraft from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on
Wallops Island, Virginia, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The launch
marks Orbital ATK’s ninth cargo mission for NASA.
The Antares medium-class rocket matched its record for the heaviest
cargo load carried to date with approximately 7,400 pounds (3,350
kilograms) of vital supplies and scientific equipment aboard Cygnus that
will be delivered to the crew aboard the International Space Station.
Following an approximate nine-minute ascent, the “S.S. J.R. Thompson”
Cygnus spacecraft, named in honor of J.R. Thompson, a distinguished
leader in the space industry, was successfully deployed into orbit.
Orbital ATK’s engineering team confirmed reliable communications have
been established and the vehicle’s solar arrays are fully deployed,
providing the necessary electrical power to operate the spacecraft.
“Watching an Antares launch cargo to the International Space Station is
always impressive,” said Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK’s Flight
Systems Group. “The team works very hard to ensure each NASA commercial
resupply mission is successful.”
Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 5:20 a.m. EDT on May 24. The
spacecraft will remain attached to the space station for approximately
seven weeks before departing with up to 7,100 pounds (approximately
3,200 kilograms) of disposal cargo. Cygnus’s large-volume disposal
capability is unique among America’s commercial cargo providers and a
critical service for NASA.
On this mission, Cygnus will also fly for the first time with an
upgraded communications system known as Common Communication for
Visiting Vehicles (C2V2). This new system provides Cygnus with the
capability for enhanced communication with science payloads and improved
interface with hosted payloads on future missions.
“Orbital ATK is proud to once again support the crew on the
International Space Station by delivering valuable supplies, equipment
and science,” said Frank Culbertson, President of Orbital ATK’s Space
Systems Group. “The upgraded avionics and communication system on the
spacecraft demonstrate our commitment to increasing the flexibility and
versatility of Cygnus to carry a wide range of payloads. We are also
honored to name this mission after J.R. Thompson, a pioneer in the space
industry and someone who many of us here at Orbital ATK and in the NASA
community were honored to call a colleague and friend.”
Once the “S.S. J.R. Thompson” unberths from the space station, a
NanoRacks deployer will release six cubesats. Upon completion of its
secondary missions, Cygnus will perform a safe, destructive reentry into
Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.
the CRS-1 contract with NASA, Orbital ATK will deliver approximately
66,000 pounds (30,000 kilograms) of cargo to the space station.
Beginning in 2019, the company will carry out a minimum of six cargo
missions under NASA’s CRS-2 contract. This partnership is cultivating a
robust American commercial space industry, freeing NASA to focus on
developing the next-generation rocket and spacecraft that will enable
humans to conduct deep space exploration missions.
The Cygnus system consists of a common service module and pressurized
cargo module (PCM). Orbital ATK builds and tests the service module at
its manufacturing facility in Dulles, Virginia. The company manufactures
several other Cygnus components at three facilities in California:
UltraFlexTM solar arrays in Goleta, composite structures in San Diego
and propellant tanks in Commerce. The PCM is provided by industry
partner Thales Alenia Space in Torino, Italy.