The crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) have received a delivery of cargo just in time for Easter. Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Cygnus spacecraft docked with the ISS this morning delivering 3,447 kilograms. The spacecraft blasted off from Earth on April 17 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The launch went off without a hitch in front of record-breaking space fans. "The spacecraft is very healthy, it's performing very well," Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager for space systems at Northrop Grumman, said at a post-launch news conference on April 17.
Anne McClain grapples craft to dock
Once off the earth the spacecraft's solar deployed its solar arrays and began to generate power for the craft. NASA astronaut Anne McClain grappled the craft with Canadarm2, the Canadian robotic arm that is attached to the station on its arrival. Fellow crew member David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency assisted McClain.
The crew will now start to unload the cargo and once the craft is empty they will begin to refill it with waste from the station. Cygnus carried 936 kilograms of crew supplies, 1,569 kg of scientific investigations 24 kg of equipment for spacewalks, 628 kg of vehicle hardware, 5 kg of computer resources, and 35 kg of Northrop-Grumman hardware to the station. Of the net 3,436 kg of cargo, 3,162 kg is pressurized. The remaining 239 kg — a NanoRacks deployer that will go on the outside of the space station — is unpressurized.
Cygnus improves payload timing
Cygnus has made some recent improvements that allows its cargo to be changed much closer to launch time. Previously the craft needed full confirmation of payload 4-days before launch but the current Cygnus iteration only needs 24-hours. Cygnus will carry over into the second Commercial Resupply Services program (CRS-2).
Amongst the new cargo is equipment needed to support dozens of new and existing investigations. Some of the specific investigations the crew on board the ISS will take begin includes a study on models for growing increasingly complex materials.
New research projects arrive at ISS
The Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-10 (ACE-T-10) investigation ‘studies tiny suspended particles which have been designed by scientists to connect themselves in a specific way to form organized structures within water.’
The research could assist in the creation of increasingly complex materials that may have applications on Earth in food, drugs and electronic devices. Results of the investigation may also help develop efficient methods of creating new materials and equipment in space.
Another piece of equipment on board the load of cargo is the CSA designed Bio-Analyzer, a new tool that allows astronauts to test body fluids such as blood, urine, and saliva from just a few drops. The computer game-sized machine can return analysis in just a few hours eliminating the need to freeze and store samples.