United Launch Alliance Atlas V Cygnus OA-7

Cape Canaveral, Florida:
 Set for March 21st, United Launch Alliance (ULA) will launch its Atlas V rocket carrying the Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-7 mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Launching from Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida between 10:11 PM EDT and 10:41PM EDT this will be the seventh operational cargo delivery for Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance. 

The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft consist of two modules. First, the Service Module (SM) which incorporates the avionics, propulsion and power systems from the flight proven LEOStar and GeoStar spacecraft buses. The second module is the Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) which carries the crew supplies, experiments and other cargo. The SM is intergrated and tested at Orbital ATK’s Dulles, VA facility. The PCM is built in Italy and supplied by Thales Alenia Space

What is on the Cygnus Cargo Module?

The Cygnus Cargo Module will be packed with more than 7,500 pounds of cargo and supplies for the astronauts on the International Space Station. Along with the cargo and supplies, the module will carry 38 cubesats or micro-satellites by NanoRacks of Texas, new habitat to grow plants on the ISS and the Spacecraft Fire Experiment-III (SAFFIRE-III)

Along with the SAFFIRE-III, the Cygnus will also carry the Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data-2) flight recorder to provide crucial data about the extreme conditions a spacecraft encounters during atmospheric reentry. The RED-Data-2 flight recorder was built by Terminal Velocity Aerospace.

Out of 38 cubesats, 28 will be used for the QB50 mission, which will study the lower thermosphere. Four of the cubesats will launch directly from the Cygnus during flight towards the ISS, while the remaining will be launched from the space station.

The Advanced Plant Habitat will be used to conduct plant bioscience research on the space station and to help NASA prepare crew to grow their own food while on deep-space exploration missions. 

Below is an ultra high resolution 360 degree panoramic image of the Cygnus Cargo Module inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida before encapsulation for the OA-6 mission last year

Photo credit – Biz360ToursView the ultra high resolution image in full screen.

About the Atlas V Rocket

The Atlas V rocket was introduced by United Launch Alliance (ULA) in August 2002. The Atlas V was developed to provide launch services to the U.S. government and is a part of the Atlas program which in total has logged more than 600 launches to date. Since their debut, Atlas V vehicles have achieved 100 percent mission success in launches from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and Space Launch Complex-3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The rocket uses a standard common core booster™ (CCB), up to five strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRB), an upper-stage Centaur in either the Single-Engine Centaur (SEC) or the Dual-Engine Centaur (DEC) configuration, and one of several payload fairings (PLF). The OA-7 mission rocket will fly in 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.

There is nothing like seeing a launch in person, and if you are in the area for a launch this is a good post for the best rocket launch viewing areas on the Space Coast.


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