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Cygnus Fails to Deploy Solar Array Shortly After Launch


Northrop Grummans’s Cygnus space freighter with its cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays.

Northrop Grummans’s Cygnus space freighter with its cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays.
Image: NASA

The Cygnus cargo spacecraft has run into some trouble on its way to the International Space Station (ISS), as one of its two solar arrays is refusing to deploy.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft had an early launch on Monday, November 7 at 5:32 a.m. ET from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Space Port. The expendable freighter is carrying 8,200 pounds of cargo to the ISS and is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting space station on Wednesday.

While en route, the cargo capsule experienced a slight malfunction. After separating from the Antares rocket, Cygnus only managed to deploy one of its solar arrays while the other one remained unfurled. “Northrop Grumman is gathering data on the second array deployment and is working closely with NASA,” the space agency wrote in a very short blog post on Monday.

That said, Northrop Grumman did inform NASA that Cygnus, despite having only one functioning solar array, has enough power to continue the rest of its journey and rendezvous with the ISS on Wednesday. “NASA is assessing this and the configuration required for capture and berthing,” NASA added.

The NG-18 resupply mission to the ISS is meant to deliver crew supplies, equipment, and science experiments to the orbiting station. Cygnus is part of Northrop Grumman’s commercial contract with NASA, delivering cargo resupply missions to the ISS.

The company’s 18th Cygnus spacecraft was named the S.S. Sally Ride in honor of the first U.S. woman to go to space, a feat Ride accomplished in 1983. The cargo capsule is carrying a diverse payload that includes a 3D printer for generating human tissues, an experiment on growing plants in space, and the first satellite developed by Uganda and Zimbabwe.

We will be following the progress of the Cygnus spacecraft and provide updates as we learn more.

More: Fix to Malfunctioning Lucy Probe Good Enough to Complete Asteroid Mission, NASA Says



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