- Awareness in space.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: Antares rocket, Cygnus cargo spacecraft- mission objectives, cubesat.
Context: Antares rocket built by Northrop Grumman recently lifted off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore carrying the Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft to the International Space Station.
- The mission is called NG-11. It is the eleventh cargo flight for NASA by Northrop Grummanand will be the company’s longest one to date.
- The NG-11 mission is also the final cargo mission for NASA by Northrop Grumman under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services 1 program. To mark the occasion, Northrop Grummannamed the NG-11 Cygnus the S.S. Roger Chaffee in honor of NASA astronaut Roger Chaffee, who was killed in the Apollo 1 fire alongside crewmates Gus Grissom and Ed White, Jr.
The mice aboard Cygnus are at the core of one such study, which aims to test the effectiveness of an anti-tetanus vaccine. The rodents are split into two groups of 20; half will receive the vaccine in space and the other 20 will not receive the vaccine. Scientists will study the mice to see how the animals responded to the vaccine once they are back on Earth.
- Other wild science experiments on Cygnusinclude testing out two robotic systems; Seeker, which is designed to hunt for air leaks on the Space Station, and Astrobee, which aims to help the station’s staff with tasks such as inventory and maintenance.
- There’s gear to build pristine ZBLANfiber-optic cables in space, and a prototype for a novel air scrubber that removes carbon dioxide from the station’s atmosphere.
- On the exterior of the Cygnus are small CubeSats that will be deployed after the spacecraft leaves the space station this summer.
- The Antares rocket’s upper stage also carried 60 so-called ThinSats (tiny satellites) were built by elementary and high school students; one NASA CubeSat (called SASSI2) was built by students at both universities in Indiana and Illinois.