Cygnus CRS OA-8E
Cygnus CRS OA-8E, also known as Orbital ATK CRS-8E, was the ninth flight of the Orbital ATK unmanned resupply spacecraft Cygnus and its eighth flight to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. The mission launched on November 12th, 2017 at 7:19 AM. Orbital and NASA jointly developed a new space transportation system to provide commercial cargo resupply services to the International Space Station (ISS). Under the Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program, then Orbital Sciences designed and built Antares, a medium-class launch vehicle; Cygnus, an advanced maneuvering spacecraft, and a Pressurized Cargo Module which is provided by Orbital's industrial partner Thales Alenia Space.
Cygnus OA-8E arrival at the ISS after grappled by Canadarm2 on 14 November 2017
|Mission type||ISS resupply|
|Mission duration||Final: 36 days, 34 minutes|
|Spacecraft||S.S. Gene Cernan|
|Spacecraft type||Enhanced Cygnus|
Thales Alenia Space
|Launch mass||6,172 kg (13,608 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||12 November 2017, 12:19:51UTC|
|Launch site||MARS LP-0A|
|End of mission|
|Decay date||18 December 2017, 12:54UTC|
|Berthing at ISS|
|Berthing port||Unity nadir|
|RMS capture||14 November 2017, 10:04 UTC|
|Berthing date||14 November 2017, 12:15 UTC|
|Unberthing date||5 December 2017, 17:52 UTC|
|RMS release||6 December 2017, 13:11 UTC|
|Time berthed||21 days, 5 hours, 37 minutes|
|Mass||3,338 kg (7,359 lb)|
|Pressurised||3,229 kg (7,119 lb)|
|Unpressurised||109 kg (240 lb)|
The COTS demonstration mission was successfully conducted in September 2013, and Orbital commenced operational ISS cargo missions under the Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) program with two missions in 2014. Regrettably, the third operational mission, CRS Orb-3, was not successful due to spectacular Antares failure during launch. The company decided to discontinue the Antares 100 series and accelerate the introduction of a new propulsion system. The Antares system has been upgraded with newly built RD-181 first-stage engines to provide greater payload performance and increased reliability.
In the meantime, the company had contracted with United Launch Alliance for an Atlas V launch of CRS OA-4 in late 2015 from Cape Canaveral, FL and with a second Atlas V Cygnus launch in 2016. The company had planned Cygnus missions for the first (CRS OA-5), second (CRS OA-6) and fourth quarters (CRS OA-7) of 2016. Two of these flew on the new Antares 230 and one on the aforementioned second Atlas V. These three missions enabled Orbital ATK to cover their initial CRS contracted payload obligation. This particular mission, is known as OA-8E, is part of an extension program that will enable NASA to cover the ISS resupply needs until the Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract enters in effect. It is called OA-8E rather than OA-8, because the switch to a mix of Atlas V and the more powerful Antares 230 enabled the company to cover its original contract with just 7 flights, even counting the Orb-3 failure, and thus the E indicates that it actually is an extension above the originally contracted payload transport.
Production and integration of Cygnus spacecraft is performed in Dulles, Virginia. The Cygnus service module is mated with the pressurized cargo module at the launch site, and mission operations are conducted from control centers in Dulles and Houston.
The launch was previously schedule for November 10th at 8:03 AM before being moved to November 11th at 7:37:24 AM. The November 11 launch attempt resulted in a twenty four hour recycle due to a plane flying into the restricted area with less than a minute into the count. The Antares rocket launched the 8th Cygnus cargo vehicle on Sunday November 12th at 7:19:51 AM.
This was the eighth of ten flights by Orbital ATK under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, and is considered an extension over the originally contracted flights. This was the fifth flight of the enhanced-sized Cygnus PCM.
In an Orbital ATK tradition, this Cygnus spacecraft was named the S.S. Gene Cernan after one of NASA's Apollo astronauts, Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan (1934-2017), the last man (as of 2017) to walk on the Moon and one of only three humans to visit the Moon (in orbit or on the surface) twice.
Total cargo mass: 3,338 kg (7,359 lb)
- Pressured cargo with packaging: 3,229 kg (7,119 lb)
- Crew supplies: 1,240 kg (2,734 lb)
- Science investigations: 740 kg (1,631 lb)
- Spacewalk equipment: 132 kg (291 lb)
- Vehicle hardware: 851 kg (1,876 lb)
- Computer resources: 34 kg (75 lb)
- Unpressurized cargo: 109 kg (240 lb)
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