The next real event to take place with NASA is the Cygnus mission. This will be a resupply of the International Space Station (ISS) with a cargo space vehicle contracted by NASA with the Orbital ATK company. It will feature a new propulsion system in the first launch stage which they hope performs well and will continue to be used throughout slotted 2016 commercial resupply services (CRS) missions.
In October there was the disappointment of the launch failure of the Antares vehicle but teams have worked tirelessly to determine the reason for the failure and make any necessary changes to prevent future failures and ensure 100% success. Although this is an unmanned spacecraft, the goal is always 100% success.
The Cygnus spacecraft is undergoing enhancements such as launching aboard an Atlas V rocket, having the Antares rocket upgraded, integrated with the new RD-181 main engines and this upgrade being tested in a launch slated for a December 19, 2015 resupply mission. The RD-181 engines are more powerful than previous thrusters and make increased payload capacity possible.
The Atlas V rocket is the delivery system for the Cygnus spacecraft that will deliver almost 8,000 pound of supplies and cargo to the ISS. Three previous missions have already delivered an equivalent payload and have actually removed more cargo than they have delivered. And, since there’s no Tuesday/Thursday curbside garbage pick-up at the ISS, this is a critical service. One of the important aspects of the enhanced design of the Cygnus is that it can carry almost three times the payload of previous missions. This is time saving as well as tax dollar saving. In 2016 Cygnus will carry out three more resupply missions and hopefully fulfill its maximum load capacity capabilities.
The Cygnus itself is an unpiloted, pressurized, cargo module. When it launches in December its cargo will not only contain life sustaining supplies, but important research materials. After achieving orbit, the craft will self-guide until it achieves a position near the ISS where it will be grabbed by the station’s robotic arm. It will be connected to a port and unloaded then reloaded with the station’s garbage, re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and incinerate. Mission accomplished!
Although Orbital ATK has the resupply contract, they are not the company responsible for the construction of Cygnus. In case you haven’t guessed by the name, it is of Italian origin. Thales Alenia Space designed and constructed the module in Italy.
And that is yet one more reason the gringa loves NASA and the entire scientific community that is committed to space exploration. These are the folks who not only see no limits to what mankind can achieve, they also do not see borders. The gringa hates the concept of borders. We’re all just people. We all just want to have the best opportunity possible to create the best life possible. Why should a situation that I had no say in or control over, who my biological parents are and where they gave birth to me, have anything to do with where I, as an adult, choose to live and build a life? Where is the freedom and justice in that? As long as there are barriers, there is no real freedom.