NASA decision could help International Space Station stay in orbit without Russia

Northrup Grumman’s Swan The cargo spacecraft performed a successful relaunch from the International Space Station on Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Cygnus NG-17 “Piers Sellers” is the first U.S.-based spacecraft to provide a substantial orbital adjustment to the ISS since the retirement of space shuttles in 2011.

The Russian Progress cargo ship was the primary source of station reboosts, attitude control, and debris avoidance maneuvers.

“This ISS reboost using Cygnus adds critical capability to help maintain and sustain the space station,” Steve Krein, vice president, civilian and commercial space, tactical space systems, Northrop Grumman, said in a statement. hurry.

“It also demonstrates the enormous capability that Cygnus offers to the ISS and future space exploration efforts.”

What happened – Cygnus ignited its gimballed delta-speed engine for a total of 301 seconds, increasing the station’s perigee by about 0.8 kilometers (1/2 mile) and its apogee by nearly 0.2 kilometers (0.1 mile) for a test of “this enhanced capability for standard NASA service,” Northrup Grumman said.

“This Cygnus mission is the first to offer this enhanced capability as a standard service for NASA.”

Cygnus had been docked with the ISS since February and is now gone, departing June 28.

In 2018, the ninth Cygnus resupply mission performed a test of the reboost capability by performing a short 50-second burn of its main engine, raising the station’s altitude by 90 meters (295 ft).

The June 25 booster shot was actually the second attempt to raise the station’s orbit with Cygnus NG-17, as on June 20 the maneuver was aborted after only five seconds. Northrup Grumman said the abandonment was triggered automatically and was a “precautionary measure”. An investigation carried out by engineers showed that the parameters observed were in line with expectations and acceptable.

A former Cygnus (OA-8) spacecraft is pictured after grappling with the Canadarm2 robotic arm in 2017.Nasa

Why is it important – Having US capabilities to provide propulsion to the ISS became an issue after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022.

After the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and other member countries of the space station consortium, the thinly veiled threats of Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos) indicated that the Russia could end its cooperation in space; he also suggested that the country could use the ISS as a weapon.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti also showed a CGI video depicting Russian modules detaching from the ISS. Other social media volleys from Rogozin and others lasted a tense few months, but tempers seemed to have cooled lately.

Russia and the ISS

NASA says that normally all propulsion for the International Space Station is provided by Russian segments and Russian cargo spacecraft. A set of thrusters on the Zvezda module can be used, however, they are mainly reserved when the Soyuz cannot perform the task, because the thruster on board the station is limited. American gyros provide day-to-day attitude control or station orientation control.

“Russian thrusters are used for attitude control during dynamic events such as spacecraft dockings and provide attitude control recovery when gyroscopes reach their control limit,” NASA said.

And after – Of course, since Cygnus is now gone, the space station remains dependent on Russian sources for all necessary maneuvers. Although the SpaceX chief hinted that the Dragon capsules could help maneuver the station, they currently lack this capability.

Northrup Grumman said the provision of boost and thruster capabilities is the latest in a series of improvements to the spacecraft since its first mission to the station in 2013.

The company has increased the amount of cargo it can transport to the station with a larger cargo module, added lighter and more powerful solar panels and fuel tanks, and upgraded many of the its systems to make the reboost possible.

So far, Cygnus spacecraft has delivered more than 5,000 kilograms, or 112,000 pounds, of equipment and supplies to astronaut crews aboard the ISS. The Cygnus vehicle was filled with garbage before undocking and made a controlled re-entry over the Pacific Ocean on June 29.

This article was originally published on Universe today by Nancy Atkinson. Read the original article here.

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