Antares Rocket Launch From NASA Wallops Flight Facility

An Antares rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Credit score: Invoice Ingalls / NASA

A contemporary provide of 8,300 kilos of scientific investigations and cargo launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 12:40 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 19, aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft, and is now traveling to the International Space Station.

The Cygnus spacecraft, which was launched on an Antares rocket, is scheduled to arrive at the space station around 4:35 a.m. on Monday, February 21. NASA Television, the NASA app, and agency’s website will provide live coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival beginning at 3 a.m.

Northrop Grumman Antares Rocket Liftoff NASA Wallops Flight Facility

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket liftoff from pad 0A at 12:40 p.m. EST from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, on February 19, 2022. The Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 8,300 pounds of science investigations and cargo, is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday, February 21. Credit: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil

NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron will capture Cygnus with the station’s robotic Canadarm2 upon its arrival. The spacecraft will then be installed on the Earth-facing port of the station’s Unity module.

That is Northrop Grumman’s seventeenth contracted resupply mission underneath the second Business Resupply Companies contract with NASA. The supply consists of important supplies to help dozens of the greater than 250 science and analysis investigations occurring throughout NASA’s Expedition 66 mission aboard the house station.

The scientific investigations Cygnus is carrying embrace:

Defending our pores and skin

Deterioration of pores and skin tissue, a traditional a part of growing old, happens over a long time. Microgravity results in adjustments within the physique like growing old however that happen far more shortly, to allow them to be extra simply studied. Colgate Pores and skin Growing old will consider mobile and molecular adjustments in engineered human pores and skin cells in microgravity. Outcomes might assist pace improvement of merchandise aimed toward defending pores and skin from the growing old course of on Earth.

Colgate Skin Aging

Preparation of tissue tradition plates for Colgate Pores and skin Growing old, which evaluates adjustments in pores and skin cells in microgravity and will assist present a mannequin for assessing merchandise for safeguarding pores and skin from the consequences of growing old. Credit score: Colgate-Palmolive

Testing tumor medicine

MicroQuin 3D Tumor will look at the consequences of a therapeutic on breast and prostate most cancers cells. These cells can develop in a extra pure 3D mannequin in microgravity, which makes it simpler to characterize their construction, gene expression, cell signaling, and response to the remedy. Outcomes may present new perception into the cell protein focused by the drug and assist advance improvement of different most cancers medicine.

Breast Cancer Cells Treated With MicroQuin Therapeutic

This picture reveals immunofluorescence of breast most cancers cells handled with a MicroQuin therapeutic. Staining reveals a traditional nucleus (blue) and the therapeutic (inexperienced) localized to the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum (purple). The drug forces the cytoskeleton (yellow) to break down, inducing cell demise. Credit score: Scott Robinson, MicroQuin

Enhancing hydrogen sensors

The Superior Hydrogen Sensor Expertise Demonstration will take a look at new sensors for the house station’s oxygen technology system. Present sensors be sure that not one of the hydrogen enters the cabin oxygen however might be delicate to moisture, nitrogen, and different points that require them to be swapped out each 201 days. This know-how may present extra sturdy sensors for conditions the place fast alternative isn’t sensible, decreasing the variety of spares wanted on longer house missions resembling to the Moon or Mars.

OGA H2 Sensor Demo

Hardware for the OGA H2 Sensor Demo shown in preparation for flight. This technology demonstration tests new sensors for detecting hydrogen in oxygen generating systems on spacecraft. Credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Better batteries

Space Demonstration for All Solid-State Li Ion Battery (Space As-Lib), an investigation from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will feature the operation of a lithium-ion secondary battery capable of safe, stable operation under extreme temperatures and in a vacuum environment. The battery uses solid, inorganic, and flame-retardant materials that do not leak, making it safer and more reliable. Results could demonstrate the battery’s performance for various potential uses in space and other planetary environments. Solid-state batteries also have potential applications in harsh environments and the automotive and aerospace industries.

Space As-Lib Hardware

The Space As-Lib hardware is shown undergoing thermal vacuum testing prior to launch. Credit: JAXA

Plants in space

Current systems for growing plants in space use soil or a growth medium. These systems are small and do not scale well in a space environment due to mass, containment, maintenance, and sanitation issues. To address these issues, eXposed Root On-Orbit Test System (XROOTS) will use water- and air-based methods instead, reducing overall system mass. Results could provide insight into the development of larger-scale systems to grow food crops for future space exploration and habitats. Components of the system could also enhance plant cultivation in greenhouses on Earth and contribute to better food security.


Green onion plants grown using aeroponics are held to display their roots. The XROOTS study tests hydroponic (water-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques to grow plants in space. Credit: Sierra Space

Improving fire safety

Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction (SoFIE) will enable studies of the flammability of materials and ignition of fires in realistic atmospheric conditions. This facility uses the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), which allows for testing at different oxygen concentrations and pressures that represent current and planned space exploration missions. Gravity influences flames on Earth, but in microgravity, fire acts differently and can behave in unexpected ways aboard the space station. Some evidence suggests that fires may be more hazardous in reduced gravity. Results could help ensure crew safety by improving design of extravehicular activity suits, and cabin materials, improve our ability to determine the best techniques for suppressing fires in space.

Findings from these and other investigations aboard the space station will contribute to keeping astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars efforts, including lunar missions through the agency’s Artemis program.

Cygnus will also deliver critical hardware to be installed during the upcoming ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (IROSA) spacewalks, as well as other components for the successful functioning of astronaut life on the space station, such as a trash deployer and acoustic covers for the waste management system.

This Cygnus mission is the first to feature enhanced capabilities that will allow the spacecraft to perform a reboost, using its engines to adjust the space station’s orbit as a standard service for NASA. The agency has one reboost is planned while Cygnus is connected to the orbiting laboratory. A test of the maneuver was performed in 2018 during Cygnus’ ninth resupply mission.

Cygnus will remain at the space station until May before it deploys CubeSats, then disposes of several thousand pounds of trash during its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, which will result in its destruction.