Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft established communications with ground engineers and deployed its solar arrays after it took off Wednesday as part of the company's 11th and final cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services-1 contract with NASA.
The spacecraft, nicknamed S.S. Roger Chaffee, launched atop Northrop's Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to bring approximately 7.6K pounds of scientific equipment and supplies to the ISS, the company said Wednesday.
“This launch marks a new innovative capability for Antares and Cygnus, which enables a 24-hour late load of critical cargo,“ said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager of flight systems at Northrop.
After the spacecraft's deployment, the rocket fielded secondary satellites developed through science, technology, engineering and math outreach programs, including 60 ThinSats and the NASA-backed Student Aerothermal Spectrometer Satellite of Illinois and Indiana CubeSat.
Cygnus will also support a CubeSat deployment mission using the Slingshot CubeSat Deployer System once the spacecraft leaves the orbiting laboratory.
The spacecraft is set to reach the ISS Friday, April 19, and will remain there for about two months before it re-enters Earth with up to 7.7K of disposable cargo.
Northrop will begin performing the six cargo missions starting this fall under the CRS-2 contract.