DULLES, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that its CygnusTM spacecraft successfully completed rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station earlier today. Known as OA-7, the mission marks the company’s seventh cargo delivery mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-1) contract. The OA-7 Cygnus spacecraft is named the “S.S. John Glenn” in keeping with Orbital ATK’s tradition to name its Cygnus spacecraft in honor of those who made significant contributions to America’s human spaceflight programs.
Cygnus launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on April 18. The spacecraft executed a series of thruster burns to raise its orbit and reach the space station. Once Cygnus was in close range, crew members grappled the spacecraft with the station’s robotic arm at 6:05 a.m. EDT. It was then guided to the Nadir berthing port on the station’s Unity module. The installation concluded at 8:39 a.m. EDT.
“This is our fourth successful trip to the space station in little over a year and the third time we will use Cygnus as a platform for conducting scientific experiments,” said Frank Culbertson, Orbital ATK Space Systems Group President. “Once again, we are demonstrating to NASA the proven flexibility and reliability of the Cygnus spacecraft and the entire Orbital ATK team. It is truly fitting that a mission designed to provide needed supplies to astronauts while also promoting space exploration and scientific research be dedicated in honor of John Glenn, a pioneer of human spaceflight.”
Cygnus arrived at the station with approximately 7,600 (3,450 kilograms) of cargo, including a NanoRacks cubesat deployer, food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts, packaging materials, and laboratory equipment. The cargo delivery also included four powered, mid-deck lockers. Resembling freezers, these lockers received power after they were loaded onto the cargo module. Each locker carries critical science samples and experiments for the crew.
The crew is now scheduled to open Cygnus’ hatch and make initial ingress into the cargo module to begin unloading the pressurized cargo. The S.S. John Glenn will remain berthed with the orbiting laboratory for three months before departing with close to 3,300 pounds (1,500 kilograms) of disposable cargo.
After Cygnus departs the space station, the spacecraft will again be used as a scientific platform, executing a series of secondary payload missions. Cygnus will carry the Saffire-III payload experiment to study the behavior of a large scale fire in microgravity. In addition, a NanoRacks deployer will release four cubesats used for weather monitoring and global ship tracking. For the final experiment, Cygnus 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. Once these secondary payload missions are complete, Cygnus will conduct a safe, destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.
Pending NASA’s specific cargo needs, Orbital ATK is prepared to launch two additional CRS missions scheduled this year that will launch aboard the company’s Antares rockets from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
B-roll and animation footage for the OA-7 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.