An Orbital ATK-built spacecraft will begin to deploy cubesats in orbit and return to Earth’s atmosphere following the platform’s departure from the International Space Station.
Orbital ATK said Thursday the Cygnus cargo delivery system dubbed as S.S. Gene Cernan supports the OA-8 mission which marks the fourth time the spacecraft dropped off NanoRacks cubesats in orbit as part of its secondary payload mission phase.
Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group, said the Cygnus platform served as an in-orbit science platform and performed functions beyond its core delivery and disposal applications.
S.S. Gene Cernan conducted science experiments inside a cargo module and carried 6,400 pounds worth of material which will be removed for disposal.
The company noted the cubesats to be deployed will support NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory missions and the Spire Global commercial weather satellite constellation used to conduct global ship tracking activities.
Orbital ATK expects the OA-8 mission to conclude on Dec. 18 following the Cygnus’ destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere on the Pacific Ocean.