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Image Credit: NASA TV.

S.S. Katherine Johnson space freighter departs the ISS

The Cygnus NG-15 “S.S. Katherine Johnson” space freighter has succesfully departed the International Space Station (ISS) earlier today, June 29, 2021. Flight controllers on the ground remotely released the spacecraft from the ISS’ Canadarm2 robotic arm at 16:32 UTC. Prior to release, the space freighter had been detached from the Earth-facing docking port of the station’s Unity module by the robotic arm. Upon release the craft performed an about three minutes long departure burn, to distance itself from the space station. Shortly after the burn ended, Cygnus NG-15 exited the keep out spere, an imaginary sphere 200 m around the ISS. Once the Cygnus freighter had exited the approach ellipsoid, 4 km x 2 km around the station, the joint operations between NASA and Northrop Grumman ended and Northrop Grumman’s flight controllers took full control over the vehicle. Over the next couple of days, Cygnus will deploy five CubeSat before initiating its deorbit burn on Thursday evening, July 2. The freighter is not build not withstand re-entry and will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, together with the trash from the space station loaded into the capsule before unberthing.

Cygnus NG-15 seen shortly after release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Image Credit: NASA TV.
Cygnus NG-15 seen shortly after release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Cygnus NG-15 was launched on February 20, 2021 at 13:36 EST (local time) / 17:36 UTC, atop a Northrop Grumman Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Space Port (MARS) on Wallops Island in Virgina, USA. After two days in orbit, S.S. Katherine Johnson rendezvoused with the International Space Station on February 22 and with the help of Canadarm2, was berthed to the Earth-facing docking port of the station’s Unity module at 12:16 UTC. The vehicle carried a total of 3,810 kg / 8,399 lbs. of cargo to the space station. This included 932 kg / 2,054 lbs. of crew supplies, 1,127 kg / 2,484 lbs. of science investigations, 1,413 kg / 3,115 lbs. of vehicle hardware, 24 kg / 52 lbs. of spacewalk equipment, 1 kg / 2 lbs. of computer resources and 24 kg / 52 lbs. of Russian hardware.

S.S. Katherine Johnson launches to the ISS. Image Credits: NASA/Patrick Black.
S.S. Katherine Johnson launches to the ISS. Image Credits: NASA/Patrick Black.

Sources

https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/2021/06/29/cygnus-departs-station-after-four-month-mission/

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-science-cargo-launches-on-15th-northrop-grumman-resupply-mission-to-space-station

https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/2021/02/22/cygnus-resupply-ship-bolted-to-stations-unity-module/

https://www.nasa.gov/content/overview-for-northrop-grummans-15th-cargo-resupply-mission

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