Cygnus spacecraft’s ISS test exercise didn’t go as planned

The Cygnus spacecraft approached the International Space Station on February 21, 2022.

The Cygnus spacecraft approached the International Space Station on February 21, 2022.
photo: NASA

NASA is currently evaluating the capabilities of the docked Cygnus spacecraft as a thruster for the International Space Station, but recent testing of the concept was quickly halted for reasons that are not yet known.

The launch of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG CRS-17 spacecraft, which began at 11:20 a.m. ET on Monday, June 20, was scheduled to take 5 minutes and 1 second, but NASA launched on 5 Everything stopped after seconds.According to an agency Press release. “Causes of miscarriage are known and under review,” Cygnus official said“NASA” was added, but no other details were provided. A NASA spokesperson told the agency in an email to Gizmodo go supply most your update Space Station Blog later this week.

The purpose of the test is to evaluate the ability of the docked Cygnus spacecraft to function as a functional booster for the International Space Station. The space station is equipped with its own propulsion system, but it is usually insufficient for major modifications to the site.The International Space Station orbits 260 miles (418 kilometers) above the surface, sometimes for operational reasons or to avoid other satellites or Potentially Hazardous Space Debris.

The ISS configuration seen on June 3, showing the location of Cygnus-17 and Progress 81.

The ISS configuration seen on June 3, showing the location of Cygnus-17 and Progress 81.
photo: NASA

This was the case just a few days ago. On June 16, the anchored Russian spacecraft Progress 81 fired up its engines for 4 minutes and 34 seconds, an action that provided extra distance for the expected path of space debris, part of the former Russian satellite Kosmos 1408, Russia deliberately destroyed earlier this year In a brazen test of an anti-satellite weapon. Of course, the crew was never in danger, but according to NASA, without orbital adjustments, “the segment is expected to pass within about half a mile of the space station.” Press release.

With so many satellites orbiting the Earth right now with so much junk and useless debris around, these exercises are now commonplace. The issue is, Russia threatens to leave International Space Station (Possibly as early as 2025) This is a small problem for NASA given that Progress vehicles are often used as thrusters for the International Space Station. Therefore, Cygnus was tested.

A failed Cygnus test doesn’t mean the spacecraft couldn’t complete its mission, but it’s good to know what went wrong. However, NASA plans to restart work on Saturday, June 25, when the agency will restart the Cygnus engine. If the test is successful, it will mark the first time a commercial spacecraft has been used to propel the ISS (at least to my knowledge).Additionally, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Check Your Dragon Company should also be able to perform booster missions if requested.

This scheduled retesting process remains unofficial as NASA needs to discuss new plans with partners aboard the ISS, according to the press release. Assuming all goes well, the spent Cygnus spacecraft will leave its junk load on June 28 and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

related: ISS spins out of control after Russian module malfunctions, new details revealed.

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