DULLES, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced final preparations for the company’s next Cygnus™ spacecraft cargo mission to the International Space Station. The mission, known as OA-7, marks the seventh operational mission for NASA under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-1) contract and the third Cygnus to conduct scientific experiments onboard the spacecraft. A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket will launch Cygnus into low-Earth orbit with approximately 7,626 pounds (3,459 kilograms) of crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to astronauts aboard the station and small satellites that will be deployed directly from the spacecraft.
Pending completion of final vehicle testing and acceptable local weather conditions, the launch is scheduled for April 18 at 11:11 a.m. (EDT) from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft is slated to rendezvous and berth with the space station on April 22. Live coverage of the launch will be available on NASA Television at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv. OA-7 mission details can be accessed on the Orbital ATK website at http://www.orbitalatk.com/newsroom/feature-stories/OA7-Mission-Page and on Twitter: @orbitalatk
Orbital ATK names each of its Cygnus spacecraft in honor of astronauts and individuals who contributed to the United States’ commercial space program. The OA-7 mission recognizes former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn who passed away last December. Glenn, an American hero of the space age, inspired the nation to reach new heights in exploration from moon missions to the space shuttle and the International Space Station.
“As we count down to launch, we are proud and humbled to name the OA-7 Cygnus spacecraft in honor of John Glenn, the first American to orbit earth,” said Frank Culbertson, President of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group. “The S.S. John Glenn is dedicated to his legacy as a lifelong pioneer of human spaceflight who paved the way for America’s space program. The vital supplies we deliver to the astronauts on this mission and the scientific experiments we conduct for future exploration are a testament to his incredible achievements that will never be forgotten.”
Once launched into low-Earth orbit, Cygnus will use its advanced maneuvering capability to transport its cargo from a low-parking orbit to the space station, where it will be grappled by the crew using the station’s robotic arm and then berthed to the orbiting laboratory. Among the cargo that will be delivered are four powered mid-deck lockers that carry critical science research experiments for the crew. Resembling freezers, these lockers receive power from Cygnus in order to maintain a constant internal temperature after they are loaded into the pressurized cargo module.
After the cargo is removed and disposal items are loaded, Cygnus will depart from the station in mid-June and conduct three secondary payload missions. Cygnus will carry the Spacecraft Fire Experiment-III (Saffire-III) marking the third time that the spacecraft has been used for these investigations as a unique environment to study fires in microgravity. Designed by the NASA Glenn Research Center, the results from the Saffire-III experiment will enable NASA to develop technologies to reduce crew risk and make deep space exploration safer for astronauts. NASA’s Advanced Explorations Systems Division sponsors the Saffire series of experiments as part of its deep space habitation development efforts that include technologies to make deep space exploration safer. In addition, a NanoRacks deployer will release four cubesats used for weather monitoring and global ship tracking. The final experiment will use three Reentry Data Collection Flight Recorders to provide crucial data about the extreme conditions a spacecraft encounters when reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. This specific experiment will also test the performance of different heat shield materials that may be used on future U.S. space missions.
Pending NASA’s specific cargo needs, Orbital ATK is prepared to launch two additional CRS missions this year that will launch aboard the company’s Antares rockets from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Beginning in 2019, Orbital ATK will conduct a minimum of six initial cargo missions under NASA’s CRS-2 contract.
B-roll and animation footage for the mission can be found here: http://www.orbitalatk.com/news-room/bmc/#. Please note that media will be prompted to request a PIN for access.
About Orbital ATK
Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs approximately 12,500 people in 18 states across the U.S. and in several international locations. For more information, visit www.orbitalatk.com.