A look at the science and supplies headed to the International Space Station on Northrop Grumman's Cygnus capsule.
The largest commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station ever flown from the U.S. is in the hands of the crew.
Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch used the space station’s robotic arm to grapple the Cygnus capsule early this morning with its nearly 8,200 pounds of scientific research and supplies.
The Northrop Grumman spacecraft called the SS Alan Bean in deference to the late moonwalker launched atop its Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on Saturday morning.
Among the new science research to be used by the Expedition 61 astronauts on board are the Zero G Oven, which will actually be used to bake cookies in space, a Barley microgravity research experiment from Budweiser, a carbon fiber experiment that partners with Lamborghini and the remote control for a rover that was left on Earth.
The remote control system is designed to show how astronauts can handle controlling robotics while in orbit above another planet or moon. Other items that arrived include a recycling unit for 3D-printed material, materials to prolong the life of the already-installed dark matter research Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a new AstroRad Vest designed to protect astronauts vital organs from radiation and a rat study to look at how daily light cycles affect liver health.
Designated as NG-12, the Cygnus module will remain on the ISS until January. The previous Cygnus module is still in orbit on a slow descent to eventually burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. Having both modules in space at the same time is part of Northrop Grumman’s efforts to prove out the spaceworthiness of the commercial capsule. The company is one of two currently flying respply missions to the ISS along with SpaceX, but will be joined by Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Dreamchaser spacecraft in that endeavor in 2021.
It’s the 12th resupply mission for Northrop Grumman, the first of six missions for the company under the new Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract.