The cargo spacecraft docks with the ISS despite running on a solar panel

The cargo spacecraft docks with the ISS despite running on a solar panel

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A cargo spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station on Wednesday morning, despite making its two-day spacewalk with only one working solar panel.

US 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 launch site in Virginia , atop an Antares rocket.

Hours after Cygnus reached orbit and separated from the rocket, one of the spacecraft’s two solar arrays failed to deploy, NASA announced.

Crews on the ground initially tried to fix the problem, hoping to open the solar panel, 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 conducting 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 evening.

“The Cygnus team is gathering information about why the second array did not deploy as planned,” NASA said Tuesday. pointed out.

The docking took place at 5:20 a.m. ET Wednesday morning as the ISS flew over the Indian Ocean.

As the Cygnus capsule approached the ISS, NASA astronaut Nicole Mann used the space station’s robotic arm to attach itself to the vehicle and tow it to its docking port.

The Cygnus cargo ship 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 under its belt.

It has also registered a failure. In 2014, the Antares rocket, which was 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 look at the first American woman to fly in space. NASA said the resupply capsule “will remain on the space station until January before leaving for a destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.”

The cargo aboard 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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