3D Printing, Virtual Reality, Simulated Stardust and More Headed to Orbiting Lab
The Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply flight 10 (CRS-10) is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in mid-November. The craft’s cargo includes several tons of crew supplies and science experiments ranging from 3D printing and recycling to simulating the creation of celestial bodies from stardust.
Read more about some of the science NG CRS-10 delivers to the space station:
3D printing and recycling
Refabricator demonstrates an integrated 3D printer and recycler for the first time aboard the space station. It recycles waste plastic materials into high-quality 3D-printer filament, which could enable sustainable fabrication, repair, and recycling on long-duration space missions. The recycling capability eliminates the need for carrying a large supply of feedstock. Current challenges of this type of 3D printing include quality control and consistency of feedstock material.
The investigation, sponsored by NASA’s Technology Demonstration Office, represents a key component of its In-Space Manufacturing (ISM) technology development roadmap.
Sensory input in microgravity
Changes in sensory input in microgravity may be misinterpreted and cause a person to make errors in estimation of velocity, distance or orientation. VECTION examines this effect as well as whether people adapt to altered sensory input on long-duration missions and how that adaptation changes upon return to Earth. Using a virtual reality display, astronauts estimate the distance to an object, length of an object and orientation of their bodies in space. Tests are conducted before, during and after flight. The investigation is named for a visual illusion of self-movement, called vection, which occurs when an individual is still but sees the world moving past, according to principal investigator Laurence Harris. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) sponsors the investigation.
Solidifying cement in space
The MVP-Cell 05 investigation uses a centrifuge to provide a variable gravity environment to study the complex process of cement solidification, a step toward eventually making and using concrete on extraterrestrial bodies. These tests are a follow-on to the previous studies known as Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS), which studied cement solidification in microgravity. Together, these tests will help engineers better understand the microstructure and material properties of cement, leading to design of safer, lightweight space habitats and improving cement processing techniques on Earth. This investigation is sponsored by NASA.
From stardust to solar systems
Much of the universe was created when dust from star-based processes clumped into intermediate-sized particles and eventually became planets, moons and other objects. Many questions remain as to just how this worked, though. The EXCISS investigation seeks answers by simulating the high-energy, low gravity conditions that were present during formation of the early solar system. Scientists plan to zap a specially formulated dust with an electrical current, then study the shape and texture of pellets formed.
Principal investigator Tamara Koch explains that the dust is made up of particles of forsterite (Mg2SiO4), the main mineral in many meteorites and related to olivine, also known as the gemstone peridot. The particles are about the diameter of a human hair. The ISS National Lab sponsors the EXCISS investigation.
Growing crystals to fight Parkinson’s disease
The CASIS PCG-16 investigation grows large crystals of an important protein, Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2, or LRRK2, in microgravity for analysis back on Earth. This protein is implicated in development of Parkinson’s disease, and defining its shape and morphology may help scientists better understand the pathology of the disease and develop therapies to treat it. Crystals of LRRK2 grown in gravity are too small and too compact to study, making microgravity an essential part of this research.
Better gas separation membranes
Membranes represent one of the most energy-efficient and cost-effective technologies for separating and removing carbon dioxide from waste gases, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CEMSICA tests membranes made from particles of calcium-silicate (C-S) with pores 100 nanometers or smaller. Producing these membranes in microgravity may resolve some of the challenges of their manufacture on Earth and lead to development of lower-cost, more durable membranes that use less energy. The technology ultimately may help reduce the harmful effects of CO2 emissions on the planet.
A Cygnus cargo vehicle approaches the International Space Station.
The Refabricator flight hardware as it appears when installed in the EXPRESS Rack on the space station.
Image astronauts see in a virtual reality headset from one of the tests to estimate distance as part of the VECTION experiment.
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst works on earlier research on the cement hardening process in space.
Sample chamber for the EXCISS investigation. Tiny dust particles float free in the chamber before electrodes produce an electrical discharge to examine how this causes particles to aggregate.
Credits: Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany
Drew Feustel, Expedition 56 Commander, filling Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) Card wells for a recent PCG experiment.
Researchers Discuss Science Launching on Next Space Station Resupply Mission
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducts research operations for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The new cancer research seeks to test a safer, more effective treatment that targets tumor cells and blood vessels. In the background, NASA astronaut Drew Feustel can be seen working on the Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS) 2 experiment aboard the International Space Station. MICS 2 is researching how cement reacts in space during the hardening process and may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties.
NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 8, to discuss select science investigations and technology demonstrations launching on the next Northrop Grumman commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station. Audio of the teleconference will stream live on NASA’s website.
Tara Ruttley, associate chief scientist for Microgravity Research in NASA’s Office of Chief Scientist, and Liz Warren, associate program scientist for the station’s National Lab, will provide an overview of the research and technology aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft.
Also participating in Thursday’s briefing are:
Laurence Harris is a professor at York University in Toronto and principle investigator for research to develop, in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, a mathematical model for how an astronaut’s perception of motion, body position and distance to objects changes in space.
Marco Baptista with the Michael J. Fox Foundation in New York is the principle investigator for a National Lab investigation to evaluate growth of protein crystals implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Crystals grown in space are larger, enabling more detailed analysis to help define the protein’s exact shape and morphology and help scientists better understand the disease’s pathology.
Negar Rajabiat Cemscia, LLC, is principle investigator for National Lab research to test a novel approach of using particles of calcium-silicate to synthesize membranes as thin as a human hair. These particles can separate carbon dioxide molecules from air or other gases, technology that could aid in removing carbon dioxide from waste gases to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Tamara Koch, David Merges and Dominik Spahr, principle and co-principle investigators at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, will discuss a National Lab investigation focused on astrophysics research to examine the formation of chondrules, some of the oldest material in the solar system.
To participate in the teleconference, media must contact Joshua Finch at 202-358-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 a.m. Nov. 8 for dial-in information.
Northrop Grumman is targeting Thursday, Nov. 15, for its 10th contracted mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The Cygnus spacecraft will launch on an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s pad 0A at Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, carrying scientific research, crew supplies, and hardware to the orbiting laboratory to support the station’s Expedition 57 and 58 crews.
NASA TV Coverage Set for Nov. 15 Cygnus Launch to International Space Station
orthrop Grumman’s Antares rocket for its 10th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station is seen on the left Nov. 4, 2018, in the Horizontal Integration Facility at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The CRS-10 Cygnus spacecraft is shown in the middle of the facility, and the Antares CRS-11 rocket scheduled to launch in spring 2019 is on the right.
Credits: NASA/Patrick Black
NASA’s commercial partner Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Antares rocket, carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station, at 4:49 a.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 15. The launch, as well as briefings preceding and following the launch, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Loaded with 7,500 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware, this 10th commercial resupply mission for Northrop Grumman will launch from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
About 70 minutes after launch, an automated command will initiate deployment of the spacecraft’s solar arrays. Full deployment will take approximately 30 minutes.
The Cygnus spacecraft, dubbed the SS John Young, will arrive at the space station Sunday, Nov. 18. At about 4:35 a.m., Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA will grapple the spacecraft using the station’s robotic arm. She will be backed up by Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), who will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach. After capture, ground controllers will command the robotic arm to rotate and install Cygnus on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.
Complete coverage of launch activities is as follows:
Tuesday, Nov. 13:
2 p.m. – What’s on Board science briefing
Tara Ruttley, associate chief scientist for Microgravity Research in NASA’s Office of the Chief Scientist
Diane Risdon, In-Space Manufacturing Refabricator project lead at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
Liz Warren, associate program scientist for the station’s National Lab
Allison Porter, flight mission manager at Tethers Unlimited
Michelle Lucas, founder and president of Higher Orbits
Student researchers with Higher Orbits
Wednesday, Nov. 14:
11 a.m. – Prelaunch news conference
Joel Montalbano, International Space Station Program deputy manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Doug Voss, deputy chief of the Range and Mission Management Office at Wallops
Frank DeMauro, vice president for Human Space Systems and Logistics at Northrop Grumman
Kurt Eberly, Antares vice president at Northrop Grumman
Thursday, Nov. 15:
4:15 a.m. – Launch coverage begins
5:45 a.m. – Cygnus solar array deployment
7 a.m. – Postlaunch news conference
Sunday, Nov. 18
3 a.m. – Grapple of Cygnus with the space station’s robotic arm
6:15 a.m. – Cygnus installation operations
Media registration for the launch and associated activities is closed. However, media may participate via phone in the What’s on Board briefing and prelaunch and postlaunch news conferences. Media interested in participating must contact Stephanie Schierholz at email@example.com for call details.
Antares is vertical on the launch pad, and we're getting ready to kick off our What's on Board briefing. Want to ask a question about the @northropgrumman CRS-10 mission cargo? Use #AskNASA and tune in to NASA TV at 2 p.m. EST: http://nasa.gov/live.
ISS science not affected by smaller crew
WASHINGTON — The smaller crew complement on the International Space Station created by last month’s Soyuz launch abort has not affected research activities there or plans to send new experiments on upcoming cargo missions.
A Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to launch to the station early Nov. 15 on the company’s Antares launch vehicle from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia. Preparations for the launch are on schedule, but forecasts project only a 30 percent chance of acceptable weather because of clouds and rain.
That Cygnus is carrying more than 3,400 kilograms of cargo for the ISS. That includes a little more than 1,000 kilograms of science investigations, ranging from a protein crystal growth experiment to a 3D printer that is capable of recycling plastic materials into feedstock used to print new items.
That research will be carried out by a smaller crew than originally planned. While NASA expected five people to be on the station at the time of the Cygnus launch, only three are currently there because of the Oct. 11 aborted launch of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, NASA advisors and others involved in ISS utilization expected there would need to be some adjustment to station research activities because of the reduced crew size. “That is now up for replanning, obviously, because it was dependent on five crew members being on board and what those crew members would do,” said Susan Helms, a former astronaut and current member of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, of ISS research plans during a panel meeting Oct. 11.
However, agency officials say that ISS research is continuing with little change a month after the accident. “We are still meeting record crew time hours. We haven’t needed to readjust the research planning purely associated with the decrease in crew size,” said Tara Ruttley, associate chief scientist for microgravity research in NASA’s Office of the Chief Scientist, during a Nov. 13 briefing at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
Ruttley said NASA is “meeting the needs” of all the researchers who expected to use the station. “There have been no major impacts,” she said. “The crew is staying busier than ever.”
She added that the reduced crew had not led NASA to change any of the research payloads flying on the Cygnus mission. There are also no plans to change the payloads flying on the next SpaceX Dragon mission to the station, scheduled for launch no earlier than Dec. 4.
By the time of the Dragon launch the station’s crew will be temporarily back to six people with the scheduled Dec. 3 launch of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft carrying NASA’s Anne McClain, Roscosmos’ Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. However, the three people currently on the station — Alexander Gerst of ESA, Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos — will return to Earth on the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft Dec. 20.
The station will remain with a three-person crew from the time of the Soyuz MS-09 departure until the next Soyuz mission is launched to the station, currently expected in April.
Northrop Grumman’s CRS-10 Launch Postponed to Nov. 17
The launch of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket with Cygnus cargo spacecraft is now targeted for 4:01 a.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 17, from Pad 0A of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. NASA TV will provide launch coverage with commentary online beginning at 3:30 a.m.
The teams decided to wait another day for launch after assessing continuing unfavorable weather conditions, including high winds and high seas, forecast for Friday morning. The forecast for a launch Saturday is significantly improved with a less than five percent chance of weather conditions preventing a launch.
Under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, Cygnus will carry about 7,400 pounds of crew supplies and hardware to the International Space Station, including critical science and research investigations. A launch Saturday would result in capture and berthing Monday, Nov. 19.
S.S. John Young to berth with the space station on Nov. 19
Dulles, Va. – Nov. 17, 2018 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced it successfully launched its AntaresTM rocket carrying the “S.S. John Young” CygnusTM spacecraft today at 4:01 a.m. EST from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The launch marks Northrop Grumman’s 10th cargo mission carrying vital supplies to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station for NASA.
“Congratulations to the entire NASA, Virginia Space and Northrop Grumman team on another successful Antares launch,” said Scott Lehr, president, flight systems group, Northrop Grumman. “As always, we are dedicated and focused on delivering mission success for NASA’s commercial resupply program.”
The Antares medium-class rocket carried approximately 7,400 pounds (3,350 kilograms) of vital supplies and scientific equipment aboard Cygnus. Following an approximate nine-minute ascent, the Cygnus spacecraft was successfully deployed into orbit. Northrop Grumman engineering teams confirmed reliable communications have been established and the vehicle’s solar arrays are fully deployed, providing the necessary electrical power to operate the spacecraft.
On this mission, the name of the spacecraft honors NASA astronaut John Young. Young was NASA's longest-serving astronaut and a pioneer in the field of human spaceflight who positioned future astronauts to live and work at the International Space Station. His bravery and record-setting accomplishments pushed the boundaries of human space exploration, making him an ideal honoree for the NG-10 mission.
“The timing of this mission could not be more appropriate with the launch of the S.S. John Young occurring just days before the upcoming 20th anniversary of the International Space Station,” said Frank Culbertson, president, space systems group, Northrop Grumman. “It has been an honor to support the critical research that has been performed on the International Space Station for nearly two decades. We look forward to expanding our role with Cygnus through future abilities such as increased science accommodation and extended stays in orbit.”
Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 5:20 a.m. EST on Nov. 19. The spacecraft will remain attached to the space station for approximately two months before departing with up to 7,400 pounds (approximately 3,350 kilograms) of disposal cargo. Cygnus’ large pressurized volume allows for large amounts of cargo to be efficiently carried to the space station and also provides significant cargo disposal capability, which is a critical service for NASA and unique among America’s commercial cargo providers.
Upon departure from the space station, Cygnus will deploy three CubeSats via the NanoRacks External Cygnus CubeSat Deployment program, from both above and below the orbiting laboratory for the first time. One of the CubeSats, known as MYSat-1, is the first satellite developed by Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. MYSat-1 was developed as part of Khalifa’s Space Systems and Technology Concentration, a joint program established in 2015 in collaboration with UAE-based satellite operator Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) and Northrop Grumman. Engineers from both companies helped develop the initial curriculum for the concentration, and provided guidance and mentorship during the design phase of the MYSat-1 satellite.
As another example of Cygnus’ expanded capabilities, the spacecraft is prepared to support the Slingshot CubeSat Deployer System, a flexible platform that can fly hosted payloads and CubeSats. The mission is the first flight for the Slingshot system, which is scheduled to be installed onto the Cygnus spacecraft by NASA astronauts before the spacecraft departs the orbiting laboratory. Upon completion of its secondary missions, Cygnus will perform a safe, destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Details about the NG-10 mission can be viewed here.
Under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS)-1 contract with NASA, Northrop Grumman will deliver approximately 66,000 pounds (30,000 kilograms) of cargo to the International Space Station. Beginning in 2019, Northrop Grumman will carry out a minimum of six initial cargo missions under NASA’s CRS-2 contract. The commercial resupply partnership with NASA is enhancing a robust American commercial space industry, freeing NASA to focus on developing the next-generation rocket and spacecraft that will enable humans to conduct deep space exploration missions.