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Cygnus resupply mission to International Space Station

(25 October 2019 - NASA) NASA commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its next resupply mission to the International Space Station at 9:59 a.m. EDT Saturday, Nov. 2.

Loaded with around 8,200 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware, Northrop Grumman’s 12th commercial resupply mission for the space station will launch on the company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft on an Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

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A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen during sunrise on Pad-0A April 16, 2019 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 12th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will launch around 8,200 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew Nov. 2, 2019. (courtesy: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Cygnus spacecraft, dubbed the SS Alan Bean, is named after the late Apollo and Skylab astronaut who died on May 26, 2018, at the age of 86. This Cygnus will launch 50 years to the month after Bean, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon flew to the Moon on NASA’s Apollo 12 mission, during which Bean became the fourth human to walk on the lunar surface. Bean was the lunar module pilot aboard Intrepid with mission commander Conrad when they landed on Moon at the Ocean of Storms on Nov. 19, 1969.

With a Nov. 2 launch, the Cygnus spacecraft will arrive at the space station Monday, Nov. 4 at about 5:45 a.m., Expedition 61 NASA astronaut Jessica Meir will grapple the spacecraft using the station’s robotic arm. She will be backed up by NASA astronaut Christina Koch. After Cygnus capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to remain at the space station until Jan. 13, 2020, when it will depart the station, deploy Nanoracks customer CubeSats, deorbit and dispose of several tons of trash during a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere around Jan. 31.

This will be the first mission under Northrop Grumman’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract with NASA, for which the company will fly a minimum of six missions to the International Space Station through 2024.