Science

Cygnus’ photo voltaic array fails to deploy

Cygnus’ photo voltaic array fails to deploy

WASHINGTON — NASA is measuring whether or not it’s protected for Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft to method the Worldwide Area Station after one among its two photo voltaic panels did not deploy hours after its Nov. 7 launch.

The Cygnus spacecraft, on mission NG-18 for NASA, was scheduled to deploy two UltraFlex round photo voltaic arrays in about three hours launch on an Antares rocket from Virginia. The array produces 3.5 kilowatts of energy for the spacecraft.

Nonetheless, in a press release launched greater than six hours after launch, NASA stated solely one of many two photo voltaic arrays had been deployed. “Northrop Grumman is gathering information on the deployment of the second array and is working carefully with NASA,” the company stated.

In accordance with a NASA assertion, Northrup stated Cygnus had sufficient energy to rendezvous with the station as deliberate early on Nov. 9, permitting the station’s robotic arm to seize and dock it. NASA stated it was “evaluating” the knowledge.

“It had an array that did not deploy, so Northrop Grumman is engaged on that proper now to get it deployed, and naturally we’re evaluating the seize and docking in case it does not deploy,” stated Dina Cantello, operations integration supervisor for ISS at NASA, at a beforehand scheduled Nov. 7 briefing on the station’s upcoming sequence of spacewalks.

She said that the system is within the phases of deployment. “The crew is attempting to guage the information they’ve and determine their subsequent steps,” she stated, with Northrup main the trouble.

If the array does not deploy earlier than Cygnus arrives on the ISS, Cantello stated the station program will wish to higher perceive the state of the array earlier than persevering with with the seize. “If it finally ends up partially deployed, it may well wobble when grabbed or docked, or it may well open,” she stated. “These are the sorts of issues and danger assessments that we’ll be doing, if obligatory, as we get nearer.”

She added that it is potential that Cygnus may dangle across the station to permit extra time to check the photo voltaic panel downside, although the specifics of how lengthy it’d achieve this depend upon the place NASA and Northrop resolve to cease within the method. “I actually hope we deploy one other array.”

Whereas the photo voltaic arrays have deployed nice on previous Cygnus missions, a bigger model of the arrays bumped into an issue throughout NASA’s asteroid mission Lucy, which launches in October 2021. One of many two spherical batteries failed to completely deploy and lock into place shortly after launch. Engineers spent months learning the issue and made a number of efforts to completely deploy the array, which made some progress however didn’t pressure the array to commit. In June, NASA stated that whereas not absolutely deployed, the array was secure and would generate sufficient energy for the spacecraft.


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