Thursday, April 18, 2019

Late Cargo Bookings Accepted as 11th Shipment of Vital Cargo Heads Out of This World

Delivery and Collection Service to and from the International Space Station
Shipping News Feature
PLANET EARTH AND BEYOND – Time was when the S.S. prefix for a vessel meant steamship. No longer. This week the Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully launched its AntaresTM rocket carrying a CygnusTM spacecraft, named S.S. Roger Chaffee from the NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. This was the 11th cargo mission carrying supplies headed for the astronauts manning the International Space Station, and a new development enabled the 24-hour late load of critical freight.

This late loading capability provides NASA the opportunity to launch time-sensitive research experiments. For this launch, Northrop Grumman’s Antares medium-class rocket used more of its performance margin, increasing the vital cargo carried aboard Cygnus to approximately 7,600 pounds (3,450 kilograms), a record shipment for the rocket.

Following the release of Cygnus, Antares performed another new capability, deploying secondary satellites for science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach programs. This included the NASA-sponsored 3U CubeSat called Student Aerothermal Spectrometer Satellite of Illinois and Indiana CubeSat (SASSI2) and 60 ThinSats sponsored by Virginia Space Flight Authority. These satellites were built by approximately 400 students in grades 4-12, from 70 schools located in nine states.

On this mission, the NG-11 spacecraft is named in honour of NASA astronaut, Roger Chaffee. Lt. Commander Chaffee, who was selected by NASA to fly on the first manned mission of the Apollo program in 1967, but who died in a tragic accident with fellow crewmates, Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom and Ed White II after a fire occurred in the space capsule during a simulation of the Apollo 1 launch. Unlike his crewmates, Chaffee had not yet travelled to space.

The S.S. Roger Chaffee is scheduled to be grappled by the crew aboard the International Space Station at approximately 5:30 a.m. EDT on April 19, 2019. The spacecraft will remain attached to the space station for about two months before departing with up to three and a half tonnes of disposal cargo. The removal of this disposable cargo is a crucial step in keeping the International Space Station operational. Frank DeMauro, Vice President and General Manager, Space Systems Division, Northrop Grumman, said:

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, this is a timely tribute to name Cygnus after Roger Chaffee, a respected pioneer of the Apollo program. In the spirit of Chaffee’s role to advance the US space program, we’re also proud to demonstrate a number of innovative capabilities for our Cygnus spacecraft during this mission, including our ability to load cargo close to launch and our planned long duration flight which will take place when Cygnus leaves the International Space Station. These advanced capabilities allow Cygnus to maximise its potential for both the Space Station and commercial partners.”