An Orbital ATK-built Cygnus spacecraft has departed from the International Space Station to conduct three secondary payload missions as part of its next mission phase.
The company said Sunday that the S.S. John Glenn will perform NASA‘s Spacecraft Fire Experiment-III experiment which will monitor the behavior of fires in microgravity.
“The experiment will intentionally ignite and record a large-scale fire that will grow and advance until it burns itself out. All data from this experiment will be downloaded via telemetry,” the company said in a release. “The results will enable NASA to develop technologies to reduce crew risk and make deep space exploration safer for astronauts.”
S.S. John Glenn will also use a NanoRacks-developed deployer to launch four CubeSats in orbit designed to support global ship tracking capacity.
Orbital ATK noted that the Cygnus spacecraft will utilize reentry data collection flight recorders to monitor the conditions that S.S. John Glenn will experience upon its reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
“We now enter the next phase of the mission which marks the third time Cygnus has been used as a research platform for science experiments in space,” said Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK's space systems group.
Orbital ATK launched S.S. John Glenn in April to fulfill its seventh operational cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station as part of the space agency’s Commercial Resupply Services-1 contract.
Astronauts from the space station used a robotic arm to maneuver the spacecraft towards the ISS Nadir berthing port and receive an estimated 7,600 pounds worth of crew supplies, clothing, food, laboratory equipment, scientific experiments and spare parts.