An Antares rocket with the NG-17 Cygnus spacecraft is horizontal on the pad as it waits be be lifted into the vertical position for launch. Credit: Steve Hammer / Spaceflight Insider

Northrop Grumman and NASA are set to launch the NG-17 Cygnus cargo resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft is scheduled to launch atop an Antares rocket at 12:40 p.m. EST (17:40 UTC) Feb. 19, 2022, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

A view of NG-15 Cygnus as it arrived at the International Space Station in February 2021. NG-17 Cygnus will be captured in the same manner. Credit: NASA

Weather for launch is expected to be about 75% favorable with the only concerns being ground winds and cumulus clouds. Should a 24-hour delay occur, the weather is expected to be greater than 90% favorable.

Following launch, the spacecraft is expected to take two days to reach the ISS, arriving in the early-morning hours of Feb. 21 before being captured by the outpost’s robotic Canadarm2 and berthed to the Earth-facing port of the Unity module. Capture is slated for 4:35 a.m. EST (09:35 UTC).

NG-17 Cygnus is the company’s 17th resupply mission to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program.

Northrop Grumman has named the NG-17 Cygnus spacecraft in honor of former NASA astronaut Piers Sellers, who died in 2016 at age 61 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Sellers flew into space three times during space shuttle missions STS-112, STS-121 — all space station assembly flights — and STS-132 to log nearly 35 days in space.

NG-17 Cygnus is loaded with some 8,300 pounds (3,750 kilograms) of science and research equipment, hardware and crew supplies.

NASA astronaut and ISS Expedition 66 Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn configures the Combustion Integrated Rack to begin SoFIE operations. SoFIE is set to arrive with the NG-17 Cygnus spacecraft. Credit: NASA

Among the research being sent to the ISS in NG-17 Cygnus are studies and research that examine skin aging in microgravity, a system that is expected to allow observation of root plant growth in microgravity and a study of breast and prostate cancer cells and the effects of drugs and how they interact with those cells.

Moreover, a new combustion experiment called the Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction, or SoFIE, project will use the outpost’s Combustion Integrated Rack to look at flame propagation in different materials.

“With NASA planning outposts on other planetary bodies like the Moon and Mars, we need to be able to live there with minimal risk,” Paul Ferkul, SoFIE project scientist at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, said in a news release. “Understanding how flames spread and how materials burn in different environments is crucial for the safety of future astronauts.”

Also being sent to the ISS is a demonstration of a lithium-ion secondary battery that is capable of safe operation in extreme temperatures and in a vacuum, according to NASA.

There are also new hydrogen sensors being tested for the outpost’s oxygen generation system.

According to NASA, NG-17 Cygnus is expected to remain at the ISS for about 100 days. Right now, station managers are looking at unberthing the spacecraft around May 29.

Following its ISS departure, it’ll spend some time deploying secondary CubeSats before performing a deorbit burn to reenter Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of several tons of trash.

Video courtesy of NASA

Video courtesy of Orbital Velocity

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