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

Northrup Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft successfully rebooted the International Space Station on Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Cygnus NG-17 “Piers Sellers” is the first US-based spacecraft to make substantial orbital adaptation to the ISS since the space shuttles retired in 2011.

Russia’s progress cargo spacecraft have been the primary source for station reboots, attitude control, and debris avoidance maneuvers.

“This reboot of the ISS using Cygnus adds a critical opportunity to help maintain and support the space station,” said Steve Kerinvice president, civil and commercial space, tactical space systems, Northrop Grumman, in a press release.

“It also demonstrates the tremendous possibilities Cygnus offers the ISS and future space exploration efforts.”

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

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

Cygnus had docked at the ISS since February and has now departed, taking off on June 28.

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

The thruster firing on June 25 was actually the second attempt to raise the station’s orbit with the Cygnus NG-17, as the maneuver was aborted after just five seconds on June 20. Northrup Grumman said the abort was activated automatically and came as a “precautionary measure”. An investigation by engineers showed that the observed parameters were as expected and acceptable.

An earlier spacecraft Cygnus (OA-8) is pictured after it struggled with the Canadarm2 robotic arm in 2017.NASA

Why it matters – Having US capabilities to propel the ISS emerged as a problem after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022.

Following sanctions against Russia by the US and other countries that are part of the space station consortium, thinly veiled threats by Dmitry RogozinThe Director General of the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos) indicated that: Russia could end its collaboration in space; he also suggested that the country could use the ISS as a weapon.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti also showed a CGI video showing the Russian modules detaching from the ISS. Other social media salvos from Rogozin and others made for a tense few months, but tempers seemed to have cooled recently.

Russia and the ISS

NASA says that normally all propulsion of the International Space Station is provided by the Russian segments and Russian cargo spacecraft. A set of thrusters on the Zvezda module can be used, but these are mainly reserved for when the Soyuz cannot perform the task, as buoyancy on board the station is limited. The American gyroscopes provide the daily check of the attitude or control the orientation of the station.

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

What’s next – Of course, since Cygnus has now departed, the space station remains dependent on Russian resources for any necessary maneuvers. While the head of SpaceX has indicated Dragon capsules could help maneuver the station, but they don’t currently have that ability.

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

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

So far, Cygnus spacecraft have delivered more than 5,000 kilograms, or 112,000 pounds, of equipment and supplies to the astronaut crews aboard the ISS. The Cygnus vehicle was full of debris before disconnecting and made controlled reentry over the Pacific on June 29.

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

#NASA #move #International #Space #Station #stay #orbit #Russia

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.