Today Orbital ATK Cygnus SS “Rick Husband” automatic spacecraft will be launched on atop of Atlas rocket (401 configuration) to International Space Station. CRS mission OA-6 – deliver supplies for six crew members.
Start of the Atlas rocket is planned for 03:05 GMT with 30 minutes launch window, 23rd March 2016. Start will be performed from Cape Canaveral AFS, Space Launch Complex 41. ULA Atlas V rocket will be launched in 401 configuration what means that payload will be encapsulated in 4 meter payload fairing, rocket will be launched without supporting strap-on boosters and upper stage will be Centaur with one engine. 3513 kg of payload stored in Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) will serve both to scientific experiments and surviving in space astronauts and cosmonauts from Expeditions 47 and 48. Cygnus will deliver 1139 kg of food and crew care, 1108 kg of spare parts for ISS, 777 kg of science payload, 98 kg of computer stuff and 156 kg equipment for EVA.
Luckily this time no contamination was spotted during control (mission was postponed from 10th March 2016 due the contamination of black mold discovered in plastic bags with cargo in February 2016) and enhanced Cygnus will reach ISS for the first time in 2016.
According to Orbital ATK it is possible to go through flight plan before Atlas V will start its engines:
- T-2’7″ Engines will start
- T+1’1″ Atlas will liftoff
- T+4’15” Main engine will be shut down
- T+4’21” Separation of the first stage
- T+4’31” Second stage starts the engine
- T+4’39” Payload fairing should be jettisoned and separate
- T+18’16” Second stage will shut down engine
- T+21’05” Cygnus separates from second stage and start its flight to ISS
Cygnus will reach LEO orbit with inclination 51.6° and will dock to Node-1 nadir or Node-2 nadir ISS modules with Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) after 72h flight and rendez vous.
On the picture above: interior of Cygnus spacecraft during preparing before encapsulating.