November 5, 2022
Northrop Grumman and NASA are set to launch the NG-18 Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station from Wallops Island, Virginia.
Liftoff atop an Antares 230+ rocket is scheduled for 5:50 a.m. EST. November 6, 2022, from Pad 0A at the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The NG-18 Cygnus spacecraft, named SS Sally Ride, will take several days to reach the ISS before being picked up by the robotic Canadarm2 and docked at the outpost.
This launch is expected to be the first of two remaining Antares launches in the 230+ configuration. Due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Northrop Grumman is unable to procure additional first stages and its engines.
The Antares 230+ first stage core structures and propulsion systems are manufactured by Yuzhmash State Enterprise under the design authority of Yuzhnoye SDO in Dnipro, Ukraine. In addition, the RD-181 engines used in the first stage are manufactured by the Russian company Energomash, and their delivery has been halted as part of Russian sanctions against the United States.
In August, Northrop Grumman announced a partnership with Firefly Aerospace to build a new Antares first stage core. The new vehicle will be known as the Antares 330 and is expected to use Firefly’s composite technology and seven Miranda engines in the first stage. This will extend the two companies’ nearly year-long relationship to build a new medium launch vehicle.
Both the 230+ and 330 will use a Northrop Grumman Castor 30XL engine for the second stage. The Castor engine family was originally developed in the late 1950s for the Scout and Little Joe programs, which were also released by Wallops. The 30XL uses a solid propellant and was evolved from the legacy CASTOR 120 engine used in the Minotaur-C launch vehicles.
Video courtesy of Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman is honoring astronaut Sally Ride as it continues its tradition of naming the Cygnus spacecraft for pioneers in the aerospace industry.
In 1983, Ride became the first American astronaut to serve on the crew of the second Challenger mission, STS-7. After a career at NASA she became a champion for diversity and worked to inspire girls and boys of all backgrounds to envision themselves in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
According to Associate Program Scientist for the International Space Station Program Heidi Parris, the NG-18 Cygnus payload will include nearly 1,800 pounds (800 kg) of material and samples to support about 40 different investigations, 20 of which are brand new studies.
In addition to science, there are crew supplies and hardware for space station upgrades, including support for installing new solar arrays.
Some of the scientific developments are as follows:
Destructive mudflows after the fire
Fires have increased worldwide, destroying debris flows. These differ from normal mud flows in that they contain water-repellent hydrophobic particles. Ingrid Tomac, assistant professor in the Department of Structural Engineering at the University of California, San Diego explains, “We would like to better understand how air trapped in post-fire mudflows binds to sand particles,” and “the removal of gravity, therefore, could provide insight into the dynamics of the internal structure of these sand-water-air mixtures and a basis for their behavior.”
Redwire is sending multiple devices and supplies to the ISS in preparation for bioprinting a human knee meniscus for the Uniformed Services University. Among the devices being shipped are the newly improved Biofabrication Facility, which is a 3D printer that can fabricate human tissue in microgravity, and the Advanced Space Experiment Processor, which can be used to conduct a variety of life and physics research science and small batch production. In addition, the company will create organelles that can be used to test the drug’s effectiveness.
First satellites from Uganda and Zimbabwe
Birds-5 is a CubeSat constellation that performs multispectral observations of Earth using a commercially available camera. The constellation will consist of PEARLAFRICASAT-1, the first satellite developed by Uganda. ZIMSAT-1, Zimbabwe’s first satellite. and TAKA from Japan. These satellites will provide a wide range of land use data, including information that may help predict debris flows.
Plant Habitat-03 – Evaluation of how plants adapt to space
This research involves a field of life science called epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how behaviors and the environment can cause changes that affect how genes work. The study will examine the changes that take place in plants over time with the aim of observing the changes over many generations of plants.
OVASPACE – Growing Ovarian Cells in Microgravity
This is a study of how microgravity affects ovarian cell growth and maturation conducted by NASA and the Italian Space Agency. It will provide relevant information for future sustained space settlements.
The Antares launch will take place just a few hundred meters from where the first rockets were launched at the historic Wallops Island facility in 1945. This will mark Northrop Grumman’s 18th commercial refueling service mission for NASA.
Video courtesy of ISS National Laboratory
Tagged: Antares Cygnus Lead Stories NASA NG-18 Northrop Grumman Island Wallops
Steve moved to central Virginia from the Atlanta suburbs. He studied US history, geography and social studies at Virginia Tech and began teaching in the public school system in Southampton County, Tidewater, Virginia. While there, he developed a passion for photography focusing on transportation and anything historical. With the encouragement of family and friends, he moved to central Virginia, where he now lives and works as a computer science teacher. In his spare time, Steve enjoys spending time with his family and exploring the beautiful county side of Virginia with his camera.
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