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Northrup Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft will launch to the ISS today

This afternoon, at 4:46pm EDT, Northrup Grumman will be launching the Cygnus spacecraft on their Antares rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Cygnus will be launching on the Antares 230 rocket, which features RD-181 engines with increased performance an flexibility. This will be the last time the Antares 230 configuration will launch, as they are getting ready to debut the Antares 230+, which will have significant upgrades to the strcuture of the vehicle and also have a higher mass-to-orbit capability. The Castor 30XL solid rocket second stage is also being optimized for the 230+ by making the structure of the motor case lighter.

The Cygnus spacecraft on this mission will deliver roughly 7,600lbs of science, research, supplies, and vehicle hardware to the International Space Station.

There are a few important payloads going up on this mission, one of them being Nitrogen and Oxgen recharge tanks for the ISS, which will replenish the station with N2 and O2 which is used for payloads, astronaut EVAs, and regular operations. Alongside that, there is also new hadware that will test a system to remove CO2 from the ISS, which will be a proof of concept for CO2 removal on long-duration space missions to other celestial bodies. This is also the first Cygnus mission to fly rodents on the spacecraft to support science investigations in orbit. Lastly, there is a cryo chiller that will allow rapid freeze capabiltiy for payload research and investigations.

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