John Glenn honored with launch of space station supply ship

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"The Cygnus module is expected to arrive at the International Space Station early Saturday morning, about 6:05 a.m.as the laboratory flies over southern France", NASA officials wrote in a blog update.

Orbital ATK's Cygnus supply ship soared to space from the Florida Space Coast at lunchtime today, Tuesday, April 18, drenched in sunshine and carrying the "SS John Glenn" loaded with over three and a half tons of precious cargo - bound for the multinational crew residing aboard the International Space Station (ISS). "We are proud to dedicate this mission to John and his family". The supply ship is known as the Cygnus after the swan constellation, and in this case has been named the S.S. John Glenn.

"Today's successful launch reflects the remarkable efforts of our Orbital ATK team". The experiment will help scientists understand space-based flammability and test sensors created to detect gases. Among the cargo that will be delivered are four powered, mid-deck lockers. Each locker will carry critical science experiments for the crew.

S.S. John Glenn will also conduct three secondary OA-7 missions after the spacecraft leaves the space station, including the initiation of the Saffire-III payload experiment created to study the behavior of fire in microgravity as well as the deployment of four cubesats intended for weather monitoring and ship tracking. Data from this experiment will be downloaded via telemetry to researchers on the ground.

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Some of the more interesting cargo includes 38 small satellites called CubeSats built by students for various research projects.

The Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2) investigation studies a new type of recording device that rides alongside a spacecraft as it reenters Earth's atmosphere, recording data about the extreme conditions it encounters.

The Cygnus system consists of a common service module and pressurized cargo module.

The enhanced version of Cygnus uses Orbital ATK's new lightweight, space-qualified, electrical power technology, UltraFlex solar arrays.

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Launch Notes: This mission marks the third time ULA's Atlas V has launched Orbital ATK's Cygnus™ spacecraft on its way to the ISS.

Orbital ATK names each Cygnus craft to pay tribute to influential astronauts. The company has also refurbished a 60,000 square foot production building, including installation of automated tooling, cranes and other equipment to enable the manufacture of large diameter composite case rocket motors.

"It's great, I mean, to be able to get in there and experience that 360-degree view", said Vern Thorp, a program manager for rocket maker United Launch Alliance. Beginning in 2019, Orbital ATK will conduct a minimum of six initial cargo missions under NASA's CRS-2 contract.

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