Minimize ISS: Cygnus CRS OA-7

ISS Utilization: Cygnus CRS OA-7 mission of Orbital ATK

Science payloads     Launch    Mission Status    Secondary payloads (CubeSats)     References

Cygnus is a low-risk design incorporating elements drawn from Orbital ATK and its partners' existing, flight-proven spacecraft technologies. The Cygnus spacecraft consists of two modules: the Service Module (SM) which incorporates the avionics, propulsion and power systems from Orbital ATK's flight proven LEOStar and GEOStar spacecraft buses; and the Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) which carries the crew supplies, spares and scientific experiments. The SM is integrated and tested at Orbital ATK's Dulles, Virginia satellite manufacturing facility. The PCM is supplied by Thales Alenia Space and is produced in Turin Italy. 1)

For the OA-7 mission, Orbital ATK is using the Enhanced Cygnus PCM (Pressurized Cargo Module) to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. The cargo capability of the Enhanced Cygnus, developed by Thales Alenia Space, is more than 3500 kg with a total volumetric capacity of 27 m2.

PCM (Pressurized Cargo Module)

SM (Service Module)

Height

5.1 m

Heritage

GEOStar, LEOStar

Diameter

3.05 m

Height, Max. diameter

1.29 m, 3.23 m

Heritage

Multi-Purpose Logistics Module

Power generation

2 fixed wing "UltraFlex™" solar arrays, ZTJ Gallium Arsenide cells

Total cargo mass capacity

3,513 kg

Power output

3.5 kW (sun-pointed)

Pressurized volume

27 m3

Propulsion

32 x 7 lbf REA, 1 x 100 lbf DVE

Berthing at ISS

CBM Node-1 nadir or Node-2 nadir

Propellant

Dual-mode N2H4/MON-3 or N2H4

Table 1: Cygnus CRS OA-7 spacecraft parameters

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Figure 1: Photo of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida (image credit: NASA)

 


 

Science payloads:

• A new, nearly self-sufficient plant growth system by NASA is headed to the ISS. The APH (Advanced Plant Habitat) will be used to conduct plant bioscience research on the space station, and help NASA prepare crew to grow their own food in space during deep-space exploration missions. The new plant system will join Veggie - NASA's first fresh food growth system already active on station. 2) 3)

- APH (Advanced Plant Habitat): APH is designed to to enable investigators to better understand the mechanics of plant growth in space, the fully-enclosed habitat will join the ongoing Veggie experiment, which is presently growing fresh food aboard the ISS. Already, small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard have been grown on Earth in a prototype habitat and will also be grown on-orbit by the Expedition 50 and 51 crews. The habitat carries more than 180 sensors to measure temperature, oxygen content and moisture levels and, unlike the Veggie hardware, requires relatively little crew time to install, add water and maintain. The APH will be installed into a standard EXPRESS (EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station) rack inside Japan's Kibo laboratory module. The APH assembly has a size of 53 x 91 x 61 cm and requires 735 W of electrical power during normal operations.

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Figure 2: Illustration of the APH (Advanced Plant Habitat) assembly (image credit: NASA)

• ADC (Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates) in microgravity. The investigation tests new antibody drug conjugates, developed by Oncolinx. ADCs in microgravity could provide better drug designs for cancer patients.

• SUBSA (Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules): The SUBSA furnace and inserts provide for improved crystal growth in microgravity. The SUBSA investigation was originally operated successfully aboard the space station in 2002. Although it has been updated with modernized software, data acquisition, high definition video and communication interfaces, its objective remains the same: advance our understanding of the processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth.

• ZBOT (Zero Boil-Off Tank): ZBOT is a NASA/GRC (Glenn Research Center) experiment with the objective to study ways to relieve fluid pressure on board without the loss of fluid. — Spacecraft rely on liquids for everything from fuel to life support systems for astronauts. Storing these liquids at the correct temperature and pressure is essential to prevent loss of fluids or failure of a storage tank. Human life in space is a balancing act of reliable systems and meticulous planning. 4) 5)

- Rocket fuel and other liquids used in space are stored at cryogenic temperatures of -252ºC to -152ºC. As these liquid cryogens are warmed by the environment, they evaporate, which increases pressures inside storage tanks.

- In the presence of gravity, like on Earth, liquid moves heat around by a process known as natural convection. However, the lack of gravity makes the problem more complex. "In microgravity there is almost no natural convection," said ZBOT project manager William Sheredy. "Warm liquid doesn't distribute its heat as well. As a result, cryogenic tanks experience building pressure, a situation we have to manage."

- ZBOT's small-scale, microgravity tests on the space station will use a volatile fluid that boils at 30ºC, to simulate a cryogen, and study ways to mitigate pressure in storage tanks. Results from the investigation will help improve tank design for long-term cryogenic liquid storage and pressure control.

- ZBOT will explore techniques where there is no boil-off. In doing so, data gathered from the experiment will verify and validate models for fluid tank pressurization. These models can be used to design future, larger storage tanks of cryogenic fluids. This research ultimately reduces the risk and costs of future space expeditions.

- On-orbit, the space station crew will install ZBOT hardware and set up the tests. After that, the experimental runs are remotely controlled from Earth by NASA Glenn's ISS Payload Operations Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Test results are downlinked for analysis and planning of future tests.

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Figure 3: ZBOT in the Microgravity Science Glovebox Engineering Unit Work Volume at NASA/MSFC (Marshall Space Flight Center) in Huntsville, Alabama (image credit: NASA)

• The OA-7 mission Cygnus carries the Saffire-3 space combustion experiment from NASA/GRC (Glenn Research Center ) to study flame development in the microgravity environment. The experiment will be conducted after Cygnus departs the International Space Station. The results will be downloaded via telemetry prior to reentry. 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.

Fire is extremely hazardous in the enclosed environments inside spacecraft, which makes it difficult to perform controlled flame growth and prevention experiments on the ISS. But understanding how fires spread is vital for designing flame-resistant materials and preventing fires in space. Spacecraft Fire Experiment-III (Saffire-III) is the third flame investigation to use empty Cygnus resupply vehicles after they leave the ISS and reenter Earth's atmosphere, providing a unique environment for studying fires in microgravity.

Despite decades of research into combustion and fire processes in reduced gravity, there have been very few experiments directly studying spacecraft fire safety under low-gravity conditions. Furthermore, none of these experiments have studied sample and environment sizes typical of those expected in a spacecraft fire. Prior experiments have been limited to samples no larger than 10 cm in length and width. This stands in stark contrast to the full-scale fire safety testing that has been conducted in habitable structures on earth including mines, buildings, airplanes, ships, etc. The large differences between fire behavior in normal and reduced gravity results in a lack of experimental data that forces spacecraft designers to base their designs on terrestrial fires and fire standards. While this approach has been successful thus far, there is inherent risk due to the level of uncertainty. Despite their obvious importance, full scale spacecraft fire experiments have not been possible because of the inherent hazards involved in conducting a large fire test in a manned spacecraft. To address this knowledge gap, an experiment was proposed to use an expendable spacecraft, enabling such an experiment to be conducted without risk to crew or crewed spacecraft.

The project team from NASA/GRC (Glenn Research Center) is augmented by an international topical team assembled by the European Space Agency (ESA). Each member of this team brings expertise and funding from their respective space and research agencies for their activities. This participation of members from other countries and space agencies not only brings additional skills to the science team, but also facilitates international cooperation in the development of an approach to spacecraft fire prevention and response for future exploration vehicles. No single experiment can address the range of issues that need to be resolved to fully understand the spacecraft fire risk and to ensure the safety of future flights. The goal of the topical team is to leverage the international capabilities of the team to develop a suite of ground-based and space flight spacecraft fire safety experiments to expand the impact of the flight experiments. The current experiment has been designed to address two objectives.

The first objective of Saffire-3 is to understand the flame spread and growth of a fire over an amount of flammable material consistent with what is likely to be in a spacecraft cabin through the development of an experiment for a sample material approximately 1 meter long. This is at least an order of magnitude larger than any prior low-g flame spread experiment.

The second objective is to examine the flammability limits of materials in low gravity to determine if NASA's material selection methods are a reasonable predictor of low-gravity flammability. Supported by the ground-based research by the topical team, the experiment addresses both of these objectives.

The Saffire-3 experiment package has a range of diagnostics to monitor the test conditions. The ambient temperature and the oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are measured at the intake of the flow duct with temperature measurements also made just upstream of the fans. A pressure transducer delivers the pressure time-history. Flow anemometers are placed at selected locations in the inlet flow and thereby quantify the oxidizer flux in the duct. Two video cameras provide top views of the entire sample. The sample is periodically illuminated by a LED source to allow the measurement of the pyrolysis length.

For the flame spread sample, the flame stand-off distance is measured using several thermocouples placed at varying heights above the sample surface. These are woven into the sample and then bent so they are perpendicular to the surface. Finally, a calibrated radiometer measures the broadband radiative emission from the sample to provide an estimate of the radiative flux from the burning zone towards the surroundings.

The test investigates flame spread and growth in low-gravity to determine if there is a limiting flame size and to quantify the size and growth rate of flames over large surfaces. The flame propagates over a panel of thin material approximately 0.4 m wide by 1.0 m long. The oxygen concentration in the vehicle is nearly 21% by volume—the same as in the ISS when the hatch was closed. The ignition method is a hot wire along the upstream edge. This material is expected to burn at the anticipated cabin atmosphere. The objective of this test is to quantify the flame development over a large sample in low-gravity.

Table 2: Saffire-3 experiment 6)

• After Cygnus undergoes thermal breakup, the RED-Data-2 capsule will enter the high-temperature flows to test a pair of new formulations of conformal TPS (Thermal Protection System ) material under development by NASA/ARC ( Ames Research Center) in Moffett Field, Calif. Specifically, these materials are the lightweight C-PICA (Conformal Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator) and C-SIRCA (Conformal Silicone Impregnated Refractory Ceramic Ablator), with a new variant of the Avcoat ablator destined for use on NASA's Orion spacecraft also under test. 7) 8)

- December 2016: TVA (Terminal Velocity Aerospace) LLC of Atlanta, GA completed development and testing of low cost reentry data recorders and hypersonic flight test platforms and delivered three RED-Data-2 flight units to NASA/JSC for integration into an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo resupply vessel (Figure 4) to be launched to the ISS aboard the Orbital ATK Cygnus-OA-7 flight. 9)

- TVA's RED-Data2 units are designed to record break-up data from reentering spacecraft. This information will help scientists and engineers understand the demise of spacecraft in Earth's upper atmosphere due to structural and aerothermodynamic loads. The first three RED-Data2 flight units are also evaluating the performance of different heat shield materials that may be used on future US space missions. The units are carrying additional instrumentation and embedded thermocouples to record heat shield performance during entry.

- After transmitting the recorded data, the three small capsules will be disposed into the Pacific Ocean at the end of their mission. Each RED-Data2 unit is approximately 23 cm at its maximum diameter and has a mass of approximately 2.4 kg. They are packed in protective aluminum housings for the trip to ISS. During their re-entry mission, the aluminum housings will separate and allow the RED-Data2 capsules inside to experience several minutes of free flight. Terminal Velocity is conducting this flight test under an SBIR contract from NASA Johnson Space Center. The project is also supported by a Space Act Agreement from NASA/ARC ( Ames Research Center). The Aerospace Corporation has also provided technical assistance.

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Figure 4: Photo of a RED-Data 2 flight unit (image credit: TVA)

In addition to the science payloads, Cygnus will transport a multitude of other hardware, totaling 3,202 kg to the ISS on the OA-7 mission. This includes 1,215 kg of vehicle hardware,954 kg of crew supplies, 940 kg of utilization payloads, 2 kg of computer resources and 18 kg of equipment for the station's ROS (Russian Orbital Segment). Additionally, about 73 kg of EVA (Extravehicular Activity) equipment—specifically, EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) leg assemblies, boots, arm-sleeves, a toolkit, tether extensions and support tools—will be aboard.

 

Launch: The Cygnus CRS (commercial Resupply Services) OA-7 capsule was launched on April 18, 2017 (15:11 UTC) by ULA (United Launch Alliance) on an Atlas-5 401 vehicle from the Air Force Station SLC-41, at Cape Canaveral,FL. — Prior to launch, the CRS OA-7 mission was given the name S.S. John Glenn, in honor of astronaut and senator of Ohio, John Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth on Mercury 6 and the oldest to go to space on STS-95. John Glenn passed away in December 2016 at age 95. 10) 11)

Orbit: Near-circular orbit, altitude of ~ 400 km, inclination of 51.6º (β angle variation: 0-75º).

This mission marks the third time ULA's Atlas -5 has launched spacecraft on its way to the ISS.

OA-7 cargo: The total mass is ~7,225 kg, including 3,376 kg of internal pressurized cargo:

• Total pressurized cargo: 3,376 kg

- Science Investigations: 940 kg

- Crew Supplies: 954 kg

- Vehicle Hardware: 1,215 kg

- Spacewalk Equipment: 73 kg

- Computer Resources: 2 kg

- Russian Hardware: 18 kg

• Unpressurized cargo: 83 kg (CubeSats).

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Figure 5: Illustration of the deployed Cygnus OA-7 spacecraft (image credit: Orbital ATK)

 


 

Mission status:

• June 11, 2017: Orbital ATK today announced that its "S.S. John Glenn" Cygnus spacecraft successfully completed its seventh cargo logistics mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-1) contract. The mission also marked the third time that Cygnus was used as a research platform for conducting in-space research with all mission objectives executed as planned. 12)

- "Our departure from the International Space Station six weeks ahead of schedule once again proves Orbital ATK's versatility, flexibility and dedication to our NASA customer," said Frank Culbertson, President of Orbital ATK's Space Systems Group. "The flawless completion of our fourth cargo delivery trip in a little more than a year demonstrates our commitment to deliver mission success and represents a fitting tribute to the life and accomplishments of one of the great American heroes of our time, John Glenn. We are proud to have flown the S.S. John Glenn in his honor."

- The OA-7 mission officially concluded on June 11 at approximately 18:08 UTC when Cygnus performed a safe, destructive reentry into the Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.

- Cygnus was launched on April 18 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Four days later, the spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station and delivered approximately 3,450 kg of cargo to the astronauts. The cargo included a NanoRacks CubeSat deployer, food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts, packaging materials and laboratory equipment.

- The spacecraft remained docked for 44 days and departed the space station on June 4 carrying approximately 1,950 kg of items for disposal, a new record for Cygnus.

- Upon departing the space station and clearing its orbit, the S.S. John Glenn successfully completed phase two of the OA-7 mission – serving as a platform to advance research in space, independent of the orbiting laboratory. It conducted the Spacecraft Fire Experiment-III (Saffire-III), deployed four CubeSats into orbit and initiated an experiment to analyze what happens to a spacecraft during reentry into Earth's atmosphere.

- Designed by NASA/GRC (Glenn Research Center) and funded by NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Division, Saffire-III was the third in a series of tests that studied how large-scale fires behave in microgravity. Cygnus has hosted the entire series of Saffire experiments to date.

- The four CubeSats (Lemur-2 satellites, operated by Spire Global Inc. of San Francisco) were released into orbit using a NanoRacks deployer. The spacecraft boosted its altitude to 481 km before releasing the satellites into orbit. This action increases the on-orbit lifespan of the satellites to approximately seven years, compared to only three years had they been deployed from the International Space Station. Now in their intended positions, the satellites will assist in global ship tracking.

- The final experiment utilized three Reentry Data Collection Flight Recorders to obtain data showcasing the extreme conditions a spacecraft encounters when reentering Earth's atmosphere. It also tested the performance of different heat shield materials that may be used on future U.S. space missions.

• On May 26, 2017, NanoRacks successfully deployed the company's 171st CubeSat via the NRCSD (NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer) on the ISS (International Space Station), and the company's 182nd space station CubeSat deployed overall. This cycle completes the NRCSD-11 and NRCSD-12 missions. 13)

- NRCSD-11 and NRCSD-12 were brought to the ISS on the Orbital ATK-7 mission, which launched on April 18, 2017 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This launch was NanoRacks' largest CubeSat mission to date, bringing 34 satellites into the Space Station, plus four CubeSats mounted externally on the Cygnus spacecraft.

- "The last two weeks marked yet another important milestone for NanoRacks as we continue to not only demonstrate the commercial value of the International Space Station, but also show that the Space Station is truly a platform for commercial international collaboration," says NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber. "Every day at NanoRacks we are taking steps towards commercial space stations, and running a successful satellite deployment program will be a key aspect of our future non-government platforms."

- These NRCSD missions consisted of satellites from over 15 countries, including universities across 5 continents, US government organizations, and commercial companies, such as Millennium Space System.

- Notably on board was the ISS portion of the QB50 Mission, which totaled to 28 CubeSats. The QB50 Mission included satellites from Israel, Canada, Australia, Korea, Spain, Germany, France and more. Coordinated by the Von Karman Institute and sponsored by the European Commission, the QB50 CubeSats will take advantage of the space station orbit to study the lower thermosphere (200-380 km) collecting scientific climate data, in what is considered by experts a relatively unexplored part of Earth's atmosphere.

- Aalto-2 of Aalto University, Aalto, Finland is hosting the m-NLP (Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe) payload.

- Aoxiang-1 of NPU (Northwestern Polytechnical University), China/Belgium, carries a FIPEX (Flux-Phi Probe Experiment) payload.

- Atlantis of the University of Michigan,USA carries a FIPEX payload.

- BeEagleSat of Istanbul Technical University and Halvesan (a defence contractor in Turkey owned by the government) carries a m-NLP payload.

- Challenger of the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, carries an INMS payload.

- ExAlta-1 (Experimental Albertan-1), a 3U CubeSat of the University of Alberta, Canada, is equipped with m-NLP.

- DUTHSat was built by the University of Thrace, Greece. It features the M-NLP payload.

- INSPIRE-2 of the University of Sydney, Australia, features the m-NLP payload.

- LilacSat-1 of HIT (Harbin Institute of Technology), China/Belgium, carries the INMS (Ion-Neutral Mass Spectrometer) payload.

- NJUST-1 of Nanjing University of Science and Technology, China/Belgium, is equipped with an INMS payload.

- nSight-1, developed by SCS-Space of Cape Town, South Africa. The CubeSat carries the FIPEX payload.

- PolyITAN-2-SAU of the National Technical University, Ukraine, carries a FIPEX payload.

- QBITO of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain, carries an INMS payload.

- SNUSat-1 and SNUSat-1B of the Seoul National University, Korea, both satellites carry the FIPEX payloads.

- SUSat of the University of Adelaide, Australia, the CubeSat features an INMS payload.

- UNSW-ECO of the University of New South Wales, Australia. It is equipped with the INMS payload.

Table 3: List of the 17 QB50 CubeSats which were deployed in the NRCSD-12 cycle of NanoRacks, completed on May 26, 2017

• On May 16-17, 2017, NanoRacks began the first of two airlock cycles for the 11th and 12th NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Missions (NRCSD-11, NRCSD-12). NRCSD-11 and NRCSD-12 were brought to the International Space Station on the Orbital ATK-7 mission, which launched on April 18, 2017 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This launch was the largest CubeSat mission of NanoRacks to date, bringing 34 satellites into the Space Station, plus four CubeSats mounted on externally on the Cygnus spacecraft. 14)

A total of 17 CubeSats were deployed on NRCSD-11 by the NanoRacks Team:

- 11 CubeSats of the QB50 mission were deployed in this first airlock cycle:

SOMP2 – TU Dresden, Germany
HAVELSAT – Havelsan, Turkey
Columbia – University of Michigan, USA
PHOENIX – National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
X-CubeSat – Ècole Polytechnique, France
QBEE – Open Cosmos Ltd. & University of Lulea, Sweden
ZA-AEROSAT – Stellenbosch University, South Africa
LINK – Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea
UPSat – University of Patras and Libre Space Foundation, Greece
SpaceCube – Ècole des Mines Paristech, France
Hoopoe – Herzliya Science Center, Israel

- 3 CubeSats were deployed of the NASA ELaNa XVII Sponsored CubeSats:
CXBN-2 of Morehead State University, Morehead, KY
IceCube of NASA/GSFC
CSUNSat-1 of California State University Northridge, NASA/JPL

- Additionally, 3 CubeSats were deployed:
Altair-1 of Millennium Space Systems
SHARC (Satellite for High Accuracy Radar Calibration) of AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory), developed by USU/SDL (Utah State University/Space Dynamics Laboratory) 15)
SG-Sat (Stellar Gyroscope Satellite) of the University of Kentucky.

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Figure 6: In this photo taken by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson from inside the International Space Station cupola, the NanoRacks deployer (foreground) is clearly visible as the CXBN-2 and IceCube CubeSats deploy (image credit: NASA)

 


 

Secondary payloads (CubeSats):

Cygnus will deploy four of the CubeSats following its departure from the space station. The remaining CubeSats will remain aboard the ISS for deployment at a later date. CubeSat deployments from the International Space Station are made via the airlock of the Japanese Kibo module. 16)

• Altair-1, a 6U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of Millennium Space Systems, El Segundo, CA, USA. The NanoRacks-ALTAIR™ pathfinder investigation tests and space qualifies new platform technologies.

• IceCube (Ice particle measurements within Clouds), a NASA/GSFC 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission.

• HARP (Hyper Angular Rainbow Polarimeter), a 3U CubeSat of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

• CSUNSat-1, a 2U CSUN (CubeSat of California State University Northridge).

• CXBN-2 (Cosmic X-Ray Background-2), a 2U CubeSat of Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky.

• OPEN (Open Prototype for Educational NanoSats), a 1U CubeSat of UND (University of North Dakota).

• Violet, a 1U CubeSat of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

• Biarri-Point, a 3U CubeSat technology mission, a four nation defence related project involving Australia, the US (NRO), the UK and Canada. Biaari is an RF signal collection mission that can be related to the spot beam mapping mission through mutual use of GPS signals. The goal is to test formation flying satellites for military use. 17) 18)

• In addition, four Lemur-2 satellites, operated by Spire Global Inc. of San Francisco, were launched aboard the Cygnus OA-7 cargo craft to replenish and expand the company's constellation dedicated to obtaining global atmospheric measurements for operational meteorology and tracking ship traffic across the planet for various commercial applications. The four Lemur-2 CubeSats are mounted externally to the cargo ship. After Cygnus departs the station in July, it will climb to a higher altitude, around 500 km, and eject them into space.

QB50 x 28. Twentyeight CubeSats of the international QB50 constellation, a European FP7 (7th Framework Program) Project for Facilitating Access to Space and managed by the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Brussels, Belgium, were flown to the ISS for subsequent deployment (atmospheric research). The 28 CubeSats (all 2U except one with a 3U form factor) of the QB50 constellation were integrated into 11 NanoRacks 6U deployers. 19) 20) 21)
Note: The satellites will eventually be deployed into LEO over a period of 30 to 60 days as the ISS orbits the Earth.

- Aalto-2 of Aalto University, Aalto, Finland is hosting the m-NLP (Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe) payload.

- Aoxiang-1 of NPU (Northwestern Polytechnical University), China/Belgium, carries a FIPEX (Flux-Phi Probe Experiment) payload.

- Atlantis of the University of Michigan,USA carries a FIPEX payload.

- BeEagleSat of Istanbul Technical University and Halvesan (a defence contractor in Turkey owned by the government) carries a m-NLP payload.

- Challenger of the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, carries an INMS payload.

- Columbia, built by the Universidad del Turabo, Gurabo, Puerto Rico/USA, carries a FIPEX payload.

- ExAlta-1 (Experimental Albertan-1), a 3U CubeSat of the University of Alberta, Canada, is equipped with m-NLP.

- DUTHSat was built by the University of Thrace, Greece. It features the M-NLP payload.

- HAVELSAT of Istanbul Technical University and Halvesan (a defence contractor in Turkey owned by the government); it carries the m-NLP payload.

- Hoopoe-2, of the Herzliya Science Center, Israel, is equipped with the m-NLP payload. The CubeSat, named for Israel's national bird, the Duchifat-2 (in English, Hoopoe-2), was built by Israeli high school students. More than 80 Israeli teenagers from around the country—in grades 9-12—came to Herzliya Science Center to help build the tiny 1.8 kg 2U CubeSat, a type of miniaturized satellite for space research. 22)

- INSPIRE-2 of the University of Sydney, Australia, features the m-NLP payload.

- LilacSat-1 of HIT (Harbin Institute of Technology), China/Belgium, carries the INMS (Ion-Neutral Mass Spectrometer) payload.

- LINK (Little Intelligent Nanosatellite of KAIST), Korea, is equipped with an INMS payload.

- NJUST-1 of Nanjing University of Science and Technology, China/Belgium, is equipped with an INMS payload.

- nSight-1, developed by SCS-Space of Cape Town, South Africa. The CubeSat carries the FIPEX payload.

- PHOENIX of the National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, carries an INMS payload.

- PolyITAN-2-SAU of the National Technical University, Ukraine, carries a FIPEX payload.

- qbee50-LTU-OC of the Lula University of Technology, Sweden, and partner Open Cosmos Ltd of England carries a FIPEX payload.

- QBITO of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain, carries an INMS payload.

- SNUSat-1 and SNUSat-1B of the Seoul National University, Korea, both satellites carry the FIPEX payloads.

- SOMP-2 (Student's Oxygen Measurement Project 2) of the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, features the FIPEX payload.

- SpaceCube was built by Ecole des Mines Paristech of France; it carries the m-NLP payload.

- SUSat of the University of Adelaide, Australia, the CubeSat features an INMS payload.

- UNSW-ECO of the University of New South Wales, Australia. It is equipped with the INMS payload. - In addition, the UNSW-ECO features a total of four experiments including a GPS receiver, and two boards testing radiation-robust software and self-healing electronics. The fourth experiment is to test the satellite's chassis, built using a 3D-printed material never before flown in space. 23)

- UPSat was built by the University of Patras (Greece) and the Libre Space Foundation. UPSat is the first CubeSat to be based on open-sources software. DUTHSat it featues the m-NLP (Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe) payload.

- X-CubeSat was built by the Ecole Polytechnique, the CubeSat carries the FIPEX payload.

- ZA-AeroSat, developed by Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa. It carries the FIPEX payload.

The NanoRacks-QB50 project uses the ISS to deploy a constellation of 28 CubeSats, from a total of 36, in order to study the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere over a period of 1 to 2 years. This constellation is the result of an international collaboration involving academia and research institutes from 23 different countries around the world. The project, coordinated by the QB50 Consortium, receives funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Program for Research and Technological Development. The QB50 satellites conduct coordinated measurements on a poorly studied and previously inaccessible zone of the atmosphere referred to as the thermosphere. The project monitors different gaseous molecules and electrical properties of the thermosphere to better understand space weather and its long-term trends. 24)

The majority of QB50 satellites carry one of three standard instrument packages, consisting of a primary instrument and an array of thermistors, thermocouples and resistant temperature detectors. The primary instruments are either: INMS (Ion-Neutral Mass Spectrometer), FIPEX (Flux-Phi Probe Experiment) or m-NLP (Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe). These experiments are geared towards collecting long-term continuous in-situ measurements of conditions in Earth's lower thermosphere. Instead of the scientific equipment, a small number of QB50 satellites will carry technology demonstration payloads.

The QB50 satellites aboard the Cygnus OA-7 flight come from a total of seventeen different countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.

 

Research overview:

• NanoRacks-QB50 has the following four objectives that include facilitating access to space, carrying out a scientific measurement campaign with a satellite constellation to probe the middle and lower thermosphere, demonstrating new technologies in orbit, and promoting space engineering and science education.

• The mid-lower thermosphere (400 km to 200 km altitude) is largely unexplored and only few measurements exist below 300 km altitude. The QB50 project constellation is the first ever mission to target such altitudes with a large number of atmosphere sensors.

• QB50 offers the opportunity to have multi-point measurements of the thermosphere with a unique space and time resolution.

• A synchronized data acquisition among the sensors of the constellation allows the observation of fast travelling and small scale waves in the thermosphere.

• The scientific database is used to validate and enhance global atmosphere models and improve the understanding of physical processes which are taking part in the ionosphere-thermosphere coupling.

 

Cygnus capture:

The Cygnus OA-7 vehicle John Glenn arrived at the station on April 22 at 11:02 GMT for capture and berthing. Expedition 51 astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA and Peggy Whitson of NASA used the space station's robotic arm to grapple Cygnus. Ground controllers working via remote command then took over and used the arm to maneuver Cygnus to the underside of the Unity module and seat the cargo ship into the berthing port. Sixteen electrically-driven bolts were engaged to structurally mate the craft to the station, a mark officially achieved at 12:39 GMT. 25)

Cygnus arrived at the station with approximately 3,450 kg of cargo, including a NanoRacks cubesat deployer, food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts, packaging materials, and laboratory equipment. The cargo delivery also included four powered, mid-deck lockers. Resembling freezers, these lockers received power after they were loaded onto the cargo module. Each locker carries critical science samples and experiments for the crew. 26)

ISSCygnusCRS-OA7_Auto1

Figure 7: Canadarm2 is used to position the Cygnus CRS-7 vehicle for berthing to the Unity module on April 22, 2017 (image credit: NASA TV)

ISSCygnusCRS-OA7_Auto0

Figure 8: Four spacecraft are parked at the station including the Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-7 resupply ship, the Progress 66 cargo craft, and the Soyuz MS-03 and MS-04 crew vehicles (image credit: NASA) 27)

The Cygnus spacecraft will spend approximately four months attached to the space station. Cygnus will remain until June 21, 2017, when the spacecraft will depart with about 1500 kg of disposable cargo. On June 28, it will return through a controlled destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

 


1) "Cygnus™ OA-7 Mission," Orbital ATK Fact Sheet, URL: https://www.orbitalatk.com/news-room/feature-stories/OA7-Mission-Page/Documents/FS001_17_OA_7485%20Cygnus_OA-7.pdf

2) Linda Herridge, "New Plant Habitat Will Increase Harvest on International Space Station," NASA, March 2, 2017, URL: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-plant-habitat-will-increase-harvest-on-international-space-station

3) Ben Evans, "NASA Outlines Science Payloads, Ahead of Next ISS-Bound Cygnus Cargo Mission," URL: http://www.americaspace.com/2017/03/09/nasa-outlines-science-payloads-ahead-of-next-iss-bound-cygnus-cargo-mission/

4) "Zero Boil-Off Tank Experiment (ZBOT)," NASA, URL: https://issresearchproject.grc.nasa.gov/MSG/ZBOT/documents/ZBOT.pdf

5) Mike Giannone, "Investigation on Space Station to Test Minimizing Pressure of Space Travel," NASA, April 19, 2017, URL: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/investigation-on-space-station-to-test-minimizing-pressure-of-space-travel

6) "Spacecraft Fire Experiment-III (Saffire-III)", NASA, Jan. 18, 2017, URL: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2088.html

7) Adam T. Sidor, "Design and Development of RED-Data2: A Data Recording Reentry Vehicle," Georgia Institute of Technology, Aug. 1, 2014, URL: http://www.ssdl.gatech.edu/sites/default/files/papers/mastersProjects/SidorA-8900.pdf

8) "Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2)," NASA, March 8, 2017, URL: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2205.html

9) "RED-Data 2 Flight Units Delivered to NASA JSC," TVA, Dec. 22, 2016, URL: http://terminalvelocityaero.com/blog/2016/12/22/red-data-2-flight-units-delivered-to-nasa-jsc/

10) "NASA Space Station Cargo Launches aboard Orbital ATK Resupply Mission," NASA, Release 17-029, April 18, 2017, URL: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-space-station-cargo-launches-aboard-orbital-atk-resupply-mission

11) "Mission Page: OA-7 Space Station Cargo Resupply," Orbital ATK, April 18, 2017, URL: https://www.orbitalatk.com/news-room/feature-stories/OA7-Mission-Page/default.aspx?prid=180

12) "Orbital ATK Successfully Concludes Seventh Cargo Logistics Mission to the International Space Station," Orbital ATK, June 11, 2017, URL: http://www.orbitalatk.com/news-room/release.asp?prid=261

13) "NanoRacks Completes Largest ISS CubeSat Deployment Cycle To Date," NanoRacks, May 26, 2017, URL: http://nanoracks.com/wp-content/uploads/Nano-Racks-Release-65-Largest-ISS-CubeSat-Deployment-Cycle-To-Date.pdf

14) "NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Mission 11 Status Update: Good Deploy!," NanoRacks, May 17, 2017, URL: http://nanoracks.com/cubesat-deployer-mission-11-update/

15) "SDL-Supported SmallSat Launched from International Space Station," Space Daily, May 24, 2017, URL: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/SDL_Supported_SmallSat_Launched_from-International_Space_Station_999.html

16) "United States Commercial ELV Launch Manifest," Dec. 28, 2016, URL: http://www.sworld.com.au/steven/space/uscom-man.txt

17) Eamonn P. Glennon, Joseph P. Gauthier, Mazher Choudhury, Kevin Parkinson, Andrew G. Dempster, "Project Biarri and the Namuru V3.2 Spaceborne GPS Receiver," IGNSS (International Global Navigation Satellite Systems Society) Symposium 2013, Outrigger Gold Coast, Australia, 16 – 18 July 2013, URL: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3d15/3f47ef0f39f21acb3649ab92afef72b53aea.pdf

18) Jacob A. LaSarge, "A CubeSat mission for mapping spot beams of geostationary communication satellites," Thesis, March 2015, URL: http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA617698

19) Davide Masutti, "QB50-ISS CubeSats ready to be launched," Dec. 9, 2016, URL: https://www.qb50.eu/index.php/news/78-qb50-iss-ready-to-be-launched

20) US Commercial ELV Launch Manifest, March 5, 2017, URL: http://www.sworld.com.au/steven/space/uscom-man.txt

21) "CubeSats Participating in the QB50 Project," List of participants in the QB50 project, 9 March 2017, URL: https://www.qb50.eu/index.php/community

22) "A Big Dream for Israeli High School Students' SmallSat is Successful," Satnwes Daily, April 24, 2017, URL: http://www.satnews.com/story.php?number=888654511

23) Andrew Dempster, "Australia's back in the satellite business with a new launch," Space Daily, April 20, 2017, URL: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Australias_back_in_the_satellite_business_with-a_new_launch_999.html

24) "NanoRacks-QB50," NASA, March 15, 2017, URL: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2539.html

25) Justin Ray, "Cygnus freighter arrives at space station with bounty of supplies and new science," Spaceflight Now, April 22, 2017, URL: https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/04/22/cygnus-freighter-arrives-at-space-station-with-bounty-of-supplies-and-new-science/

26) "Rendezvous and Berthing at ISS Has Been Successfully Completed by Orbital ATK's Cygnus," SatNews Daily, April 24, 2017, URL: http://www.satnews.com/story.php?number=330474041

27) Mark Garcia, "Cygnus Bolted to Station for Three Month Stay," NASA, April 22, 2017, URL: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/
 


The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (herb.kramer@gmx.net).

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