There International Space Station It will continue its service until 2030. After this period, the commercial space stations will already be in orbit and operational, taking their place as outposts in low Earth orbit (LEO). Now it is EAT and the astronauts living inside require supplies delivered via the SpaceX Dragon (cargo) spacecraft, Roscosmos Progress, ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle, JAXA H-II Transfer Vehicle, etc Northrop Grumman Cygnus.
The latter was launched in these hours spaceship to transport supplies of various kinds, new instruments and scientific experiments NG-20 mission. This type of cargo spacecraft has a long history of launches International Space Station but it is the first time it has been launched aboard one Falcon 9 space rocket From SpaceX.
In the past, it actually reached orbit using the Northrop Grumman Antares launch vehicles with NK-33 engines, ULA Atlas V and Northrop Grumman Antares with RD-181 engines. However, the new Antares 330 (which will be equipped with Firefly Miranda engines) and later a Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) developed jointly by Northrop Grumman and Firefly will be used in the future.
A Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 towards the ISS
Today at 6:07 p.m. (Italian time) a Falcon 9 space rocket successfully launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The launch was successful, as was the return of the aircraft carrier's first stage, which landed in Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1), completing its tenth flight. This is the tenth launch of a SpaceX rocket since early 2024 and the company's second launch to the ISS in less than two weeks.
There will be three starts in total Cargo spaceship Cygnus towards the EAT will be carried out with a Falcon 9 while testing and construction of the new alternative aircraft carriers continues (with the first possibly arriving by mid-2025).
For the NG-20 mission SpaceX has changed that disguise the Falcon 9 by adding access doors to the spacecraft to allow the addition of new payloads. There Cargo spaceship It will remain in orbit docked to the International Space Station for at least 100 days before re-entering the atmosphere and burning up completely.
The total mass of the Northrop Grumman spacecraft Christened SS Patricia “Patty” Hilliard Robertson (partially built in Italy by Thales Alenia Space), there are over 3.7 tons payload. This includes 1.13 tons of supplies for the crew, 1.37 tons of scientific experiments, 16 kilograms of equipment for the EVA, 1.31 tons of hardware and 67 kilograms for the computer part.
Among the experiments we'll find one 3D printer for metala tool for producing semiconductors in space, experiments on biology and Cell culturesA Robotic arm for surgery and one for use outside the ISS, an atmospheric re-entry experiment. As far as computers go, they exist Space Computer-2 from HPE, which has been updated with four 30TB SSD drives as well as an updated operating system.
In the future the Northrop Grumman cargo spaceship Cygnus They are updated with a greater load capacity, already increasing from an internal volume of 18 m compared to previous versions over the years3 at 27 m3 up to a capacity in the printing section of up to 36 m3. The US company's goal is to provide a cargo spacecraft that can be used through refueling even after the end of the ISS's operational life commercial space stations This extends the duration of the investment.