The Cygnus cargo ship arrives at the space station after an unusual trip failure | Tech US News

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There were some tense moments in recent days as Northrop Grumman’s NG-18 Cygnus space freighter traveled to the International Space Station after a major malfunction. Only one of the spacecraft’s two solar arrays was deployed, but NASA announced that the cargo ship performed a successful docking maneuver Wednesday morning.

Cygnus is loaded with 4 tons of hardware, crew supplies, and research equipment. He launched from Virginia on Monday morning. The ISS crew captured the spacecraft using a robotic arm and docked Cygnus in an available port.

NASA tweeted a video of the capture clearly showing just one of the open round solar arrays.

NASA announced the solar array failure in a brief statement Monday, saying Northrop Grumman was collecting data on the second array deployment and working closely with the space agency to investigate what happened. Northrop Grumman said the spacecraft had enough power to rendezvous with the ISS as planned. That assessment turned out to be accurate.

The unmanned cargo craft uses collapsible solar arrays that hide during launch and then unfold like circular fans. A 2015 Northrop Grumman video shows what the process looks like.

This particular Cygnus spacecraft is named SS Sally Ride in honor of the first American woman in space. He is conducting some intriguing experiments related to 3D printing of human tissue and growing plants in microgravity.

A Cygnus cargo spacecraft does not return to Earth. The crew usually packs it with junk before it detaches, re-enters Earth’s atmosphere and burns up, like an elaborate garbage disposal system. The newly arrived Cygnus will remain on the ISS until the end of January.

Solar arrays in space can be tricky. NASA is focused on asteroids The spaceship Lucy experienced a problem with full deployment of one of its fan-type solar arrays after launch in 2021. The spacecraft continues its mission despite the problem.

The SS Sally Ride has some very valuable cargo on board, including a mounting bracket needed for an upcoming spacewalk. NASA and Northrop Grumman will continue to examine the solar array failure in hopes of preventing another problem on a future mission.



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