Cygnus’s latest resupply mission to the International Space Station will be carrying the name John Glenn with Orbital ATK dedicating the mission to the first American to orbit the Earth.
One of the seven original seven astronauts, Glenn is said to be one of the major reasons why more and more students opted for math and science. Glenn is also credited for opening up the space for everyone in the United States. Glenn made his landmark orbital mission in February 1962 and subsequently served as a U.S. senator from Ohio. After retiring from politics, Glenn made his second spaceflight in 1998 as part of the STS-95 crew flying space shuttle Discovery.
“We’re building the bridge to history with these missions,” said Vernon Thorp, ULA’s program manager for Commercial Missions. “Every mission is fantastic and every mission is unique. At the end of the day every one of these missions is critical.”
The resupply mission was originally slated for a March 19 launch, but during a prelaunch testing March 10 United Launch Alliance (ULA) discovered a booster hydraulic issue at the pad because of which the launch has been delayed and will not happen until March 21. The additional two days will allow the launch team to replace a component and continue with launch preparations.
The spacecraft will carry 7,600 pounds of cargo to the station and will be lifted into space atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft, powered by its own set of solar arrays, will remain connected to the station until June. During that time, astronauts will unload the Cygnus, including research dedicated to range of fields such as astronomy, biology, crystal growth and technology development. The spacecraft also will carry an advanced plant habitat for growing vegetables in orbit.
Later, astronauts will pack it with trash, unneeded equipment and spent experiments. After detaching from the station, a final experiment will be conducted to test how fire burns in space before Cygnus plunges into the atmosphere and burns up over the Pacific Ocean.