NG-18 Cygnus freighter will launch new science to the ISS
November 5, 2022
Northrop Grumman and NASA are about to fly the NG-18 Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station from Wallops Island, Virginia.
Atop liftoff of an Antares 230+ rocket is scheduled for 5:50 a.m. EST on November 6, 2022, from Pad 0A at the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The NG-18 Cygnus spacecraft, dubbed SS Sally Ride, is expected to take several days to reach the ISS before being captured by robotics Canadarm2 and docked at the outpost.
This launch is expected to be the first of two remaining Antares launches in the 230+ configuration. Due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Northrop Grumman is unable to procure additional first stages and its engines.
The central structures and thruster systems of the Antares 230+ first stage are manufactured by Yuzhmash State Enterprise under the design authority of Yuzhnoye SDO in Dnipro, Ukraine. In addition, the RD-181 engines used on the first stage are manufactured by the Russian company Energomash and the delivery of these has been stopped under Russian sanctions against the United States.
In August, Northrop Grumman announced a partnership with Firefly Aerospace to build a new Antares first-stage core. The new vehicle will be known as the Antares 330 and is expected to use Firefly’s composite technology and seven Miranda engines on the first stage. This will extend the nearly year-long relationship between the two companies to build a new medium launch vehicle.
The 230+ and 330 will use a Northrop Grumman Castor 30XL engine for the second stage. The Castor engine family was originally developed in the late 1950s for the Scout and Little Joe programs, which were also launched from Wallops. The 30XL uses a solid propellant and evolved from the historic CASTOR 120 engine used on Minotaur-C launch vehicles.
Video courtesy of Northrop Grumman
In 1983, Ride became the first American female astronaut to serve on the crew of the second Challenger mission, STS-7. After a career at NASA, she became a champion for diversity and worked to inspire girls and boys from all walks of life to imagine themselves in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
According to International Space Station program associate scientist Heidi Parris, the NG-18 Cygnus payload will include nearly 1,800 pounds (800 kilograms) of hardware and samples to support about 40 different surveys, 20 of which are of all new studies.
In addition to science, there are crew provisions and materials for space station upgrades, including support for the installation of new solar panels.
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The Antares launch will take place just a few hundred meters from where the very first rockets were launched at the historic Wallops Island facility in 1945. This will mark Northrop Grumman’s 18th commercial resupply services mission for The NASA.
Video courtesy of ISS National Laboratory
Steve moved to central Virginia from suburban Atlanta. He studied United States history, geography, and social sciences at Virginia Tech and began teaching in the Southampton County public school system in the Tidewater area of Virginia. There he developed a passion for photography focusing on transportation and all things historical. With the encouragement of his family and friends, he returned to central Virginia where he currently lives and works as a computer science teacher. In his spare time, Steve enjoys spending time with his family and exploring beautiful Virginia County with his camera.