NASA commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman is targeting 12:36 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 20, for the launch of its 15th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage of the launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, will air on NASA Television, the agency’s website and the NASA app beginning at 12 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 20, with a prelaunch event Friday, Feb. 19.
Loaded with approximately 8,000 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft will launch on the company’s Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
The Cygnus spacecraft, dubbed the SS Katherine Johnson, will arrive at the space station Monday, Feb. 22. About 4:40 a.m., Expedition 64 Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi will capture Cygnus, with NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins acting as a backup. After Cygnus capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the station’s Unity module Earth-facing port.
Highlights of space station research facilitated by this Cygnus mission are:
- Spaceborne Computer-2, a high-performance commercial off-the-shelf computer system being studied to increase data processing speeds for science aboard the space station
- LambdaVision’s, second experiment headed to the space station to study the advantages of manufacturing artificial retinas in space
- Micro-16, an investigation studying muscle strength changes in worms to help us better understand muscle weakening that astronauts can experience in microgravity
- The Real-Time Protein Crystal Growth-2 experiment, which will demonstrate new methods for producing high-quality protein crystals in microgravity
- A-HoSS, a radiation detection system developed for the Orion spacecraft and certified for use on NASA’s Artemis II mission, the first mission on which a crew of astronauts will orbit the Moon in the spacecraft
- Exploration ECLSS: Brine Processor System, a demonstration in regenerative life support technology that will help provide more clean air and water to the space station crew.
Complete coverage of launch activities is as follows:
Friday, Feb. 19
11 a.m. – Pre-launch News Conference with the following participants:
- Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA
- Heidi Parris, associate program scientist, International Space Station Program Science Office, NASA
- Shannon Fitzpatrick, chief, Range and Mission Management Office, Wallops Flight Facility, NASA
- Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager, Tactical Space, Northrop Grumman
- Kurt Eberly, director, Space Launch Programs, Launch and Missile Defense Systems, Northrop Grumman
Saturday, Feb. 20
12 p.m. – Launch coverage begins
Monday, Feb. 22
3 a.m. – Rendezvous coverage begins
4 a.m. – Capture of Cygnus with the space station’s robotic arm
6 a.m. – Cygnus installation operations coverage
Media can submit questions during the prelaunch news conference by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using #AskNASA.
Members of the public can attend the launch virtually, receiving mission updates and opportunities normally reserved for on-site guests. NASA’s virtual launch experience includes curated launch resources, a behind-the-scenes look at the mission, and the opportunity for a virtual launch passport stamp following a successful launch.
The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to remain at the space station until early May, when it will depart the station, disposing of several tons of trash during a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.