NASA cargo and science heads to space station on Northrop Grumman mission

The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad 0A at Wallops and was scheduled to arrive at the space station around 4:10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 4.

A crowd watches from a safe distance as Northrop Grumman launches its 12th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-0A of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Nov. 2, 2019.
A crowd watches from a safe distance as Northrop Grumman launches its 12th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Pad-0A of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Nov. 2, 2019.
NASA/Bill Ingalls

WASHINGTON - On the 19th anniversary of the arrival of the first crew to live aboard the International Space Station, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft is on its way to the orbiting outpost with almost 8,200 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 9:59 a.m. EDT Saturday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad 0A at Wallops and was scheduled to arrive at the space station around 4:10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 4.

Expedition 61 astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA will use the space station's robotic arm to capture Cygnus, and NASA's Andrew Morgan will monitor telemetry. The spacecraft is scheduled to stay at the space station until January.

This delivery, Northrop Grumman's 12th cargo flight to the space station and the first under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA, will support dozens of new and existing investigations.

Here are some of the scientific investigations Cygnus is delivering to the space station:

More Probing of Mysteries of the Universe 

This mission carries components needed to prolong the operational life of Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02). In a series of spacewalks planned in the coming weeks, astronauts will cut and reconnect fluid lines on the instrument, a feat not done before in space, which could prove valuable for future missions at NASA's upcoming lunar Gateway for the Artemis program or missions to Mars.

Testing Personal Protective Equipment for Astronauts 

The AstroRad Vest tests a special garment designed to protect astronauts from radiation caused by unpredictable solar particle events. Astronauts will provide input on the garment as they wear it while performing daily tasks. Use of the vest could protect crew members on missions to the Moon and Mars.

Food Fresh from the Oven 

The Zero-G Oven examines heat transfer properties and the process of baking food in microgravity. It uses an oven designed specifically for use aboard the space station, and may have application on future long-duration missions by offering a way to increase variety in flavor and nutrition of food for crew members.

3D Printing with Recycled Materials

The Made in Space Recycler will test systems needed to reprocess plastic into 3D printing filament that can then be transferred for use to the Made in Space Manufacturing Device, a 3D printer that has operated on the orbiting laboratory since 2016. This has implications for space conservation and deep space missions.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently happening aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical science, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars. 

More in SATCOM