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SpaceX modifies Falcon 9 rocket for Cygnus cargo ship to deliver frozen astronauts on January 30

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The cargo spaceship Cygnus holds the payload between the two halves of the rocket SpaceX Falcon 9. Source: NASA / Kennedy Space Center

Space company SpaceX prepares to launch the Cygnus spacecraft of company Northrop Grumman on its main rocket Falcon 9 next week. Mission supply NG-20 is planned for Tuesday, 30 January at 12:07 Eastern Time (17:07 GMT). This mission represents the first launch of the Cygnus cargo module on the Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX.

 

An important detail of this mission is the modification of the Falcon 9 detector, which protects the spacecraft during its exit to orbit. William Gerstenmeyer, SpaceX vice president of flight safety, explained that a new hatch measuring 1.5 by 1.2 meters was installed. This hatch allows the crew to add additional cargo, including special treats for the astronauts, such as ice cream. This launch was delayed for one day due to the need to ensure cleanliness inside the hatch, as any contamination on the rendezvous equipment of Cygnus could affect its successful rendezvous with the MKS.

On board the Cygnus cargo ship there will be fresh food and supplies for the MKS astronauts, as well as many scientific experiments. The most significant of them — the first robot-surgeon on MKS. Cyrus Dalla, vice president and leader of tactical space systems company Northrop Grumman, clarified that the cargo module Cygnus will be docked to the MKS for about six months and will be able to raise the station to a more optimal altitude if necessary. This is especially important, as the MKS station descends closer to the Earth over time due to air resistance.

After completing its mission, the Cygnus spacecraft will return to Earth, carrying with it debris and other debris that will burn up upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. For the company Northrop Grumman this is another important function of this space platform. Previous Cygnus cargo missions were performed on the Antares rocket, but this version of the ship is gradually being phased out of operation.

Cooperation between the companies SpaceX and Northrop Grumman is of great importance for the provision of cargo supplies to the MKS, as well as the development of space research.

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