The cargo spacecraft docks with the ISS despite operating with a solar panel

The cargo spacecraft docks with the ISS despite operating with a solar panel
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A cargo spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station Wednesday morning, despite making its two-day trip through space with a single working solar panel.

U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 8,200 pounds of science experiments and supplies for astronauts aboard the ISS, lifted off Monday from NASA’s Wallops Island, Virginia launch site atop an Antares rocket. .

A few hours after Cygnus reached orbit and separated from the rocket, one of the spacecraft’s two solar panels failed to deploy, NASA announced.

Crews on the ground initially tried to fix the problem, hoping to coax the solar panel to open, but were unsuccessful, according to a NASA statement released Tuesday. NASA and Northrop Grumman, which designed and built the Cygnus capsule, chose to abandon those efforts to focus on making a safe rendezvous with the ISS, noting that the spacecraft already had enough power to finish its journey. Northrop Grumman did not immediately respond to a request for additional information Tuesday night.

“The Cygnus team is gathering information on why the second array did not deploy as planned,” NASA’s Tuesday statement. indicated.

The docking took place at 5:20 am ET on Wednesday morning as the ISS was flying over the Indian Ocean.

As the Cygnus capsule approached the ISS, the NASA astronaut nicole mann it used the space station’s robotic arm to latch onto the vehicle and drag it to its docking port.

The Cygnus cargo spacecraft shortly before docking with the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Orbital ATK, an aerospace and defense company acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2017, was selected in 2014 along with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop vehicles capable of carrying cargo to the ISS. The Cygnus spacecraft has been flying routine cargo missions to the ISS for years and has 18 successful missions to its credit.

You have also noticed a bug. In 2014, the Antares rocket, also developed by Orbital ATK, exploded shortly after liftoff. destroying the spacecraft and grounding the Cygnus program for over a year.

The Cygnus capsule used for this week’s mission was named SS Sally Ride, a nod to the first American woman to fly in space. NASA said the resupply capsule “will remain on the space station until January before departing for a destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.”

Cargo on board this mission includes supplies that will support more than 250 science experiments and other research efforts, according to NASA. It also carries fresh fruit and vegetables for the crew, as well as holiday treats.

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