Sopuruchi Onwuka, with agency reports
A Northrop Grumman cargo ship laden with 8,000 pounds of supplies was yesterday captured by the robotic arm of the International Space Station’s (ISS) on Wednesday, ending a miraculous journey with a jammed solar panel.
Northrop Grumman and SpaceX are the two service providers to NASA for delivery of supplies to the ISS. SpaceX is billed to launch a shipment later this month.
Reports of the ride surveyed by The Oracle Today hold that Cygnus cargo spacecraft named the the S.S. Sally Ride in honor of America’s first woman in space failed to deploy part of its solar array shortly after launching from Virginia, United States.
The Northern Aeronautics Space Association (NASA) which sustains technical crew on the ISS reported that the shipment arrived two days after launching, powered from only one of the cargo ship’s two round solar panels which opened following liftoff. The other solar panel was reportedly stuck and unable to deploy during the flight.
NASA stated that flight controllers tried to remotely activate the stuck panel without success. They however optimized power output from the panel that deployed and were able to energize the systems until the spaceship docked.
Both the NASA controllers and crew at the ISS monitored the flight and took images of the spaceship until it crept close to destination when astronaut Nicole Mann deployed the stations robotic systems to grab the ship and save it the trouble of maneuvering.
Among the 8,200 pounds (3,700 kilograms) of supplies: brackets needed for a spacewalk next week to expand the station’s power, as well as apples, blueberries, cheese, peanut butter and ice cream for the station’s U.S., Russian and Japanese crew of seven.
The spacecraft is described as an expendable freighter had triggered alarm when one of its solar arrays failed to deploy, raising concerns over the capacity of the available generators to drive the journey to destination. But the craft arrived the orbiting space station on Wednesday as scheduled.
“Northrop Grumman is gathering data on the second array deployment and is working closely with NASA,” the space agency wrote in a very short blog post on Monday.
That said, Northrop Grumman did inform NASA that Cygnus, despite having only one functioning solar array, has enough power to continue the rest of its journey and rendezvous with the ISS on Wednesday. The situation activated all emergency response measures to guarantee incident free shuttle to the ISS.
“NASA is assessing this and the configuration required for capture and berthing,” NASA added.
The NG-18 resupply mission to the ISS is meant to deliver crew supplies, equipment, and science experiments to the orbiting station. Cygnus is part of Northrop Grumman’s commercial contract with NASA, delivering cargo resupply missions to the ISS.
The cargo capsule carried a diverse payload that includes a 3D printer for generating human tissues, an experiment on growing plants in space, and the first satellite developed by Uganda and Zimbabwe.