The Cygnus cargo ship was sent to the ISS for the first time on Falcon 9 instead of the Antares rocket with RD-181 engines
SpaceX delivered Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS for the first time using a Falcon 9 rocket. Previously, Antares rockets equipped with Russian RD-181 engines were used for these missions.
Falcon 9 launched from the US Space Force base at Cape Canaveral in Florida. 15 minutes later, the rocket launched Cygnus into orbit. The first stage of Falcon 9 B1077 also landed at Cape Canaveral, for which this flight became the tenth.
Most previous Cygnus missions have used Antares rockets, except for two launches in 2014, when the ships were launched using United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch vehicles.
Northrop bought three Falcon 9 launches for Cygnus. The company is also working with Firefly Aerospace on the Antares 330, a new version of the rocket that will replace the Ukrainian-made first stage and Russian engines with a Firefly stage and engines. The first launch of this medium is planned for the middle of next year.
At a briefing on January 26, Northrop announced several changes to Cygnus to accommodate the transition to the Falcon 9. SpaceX announced a modification to the rocket’s payload fairing.
Patricia Patty Hilliard Robertson’s Cygnus NG-20 spacecraft will be docked with the Canadarm2 robotic manipulator to the ISS on February 1. Cygnus will remain on the station for at least 100 days.
The ship delivered more than 3,700 cargoes to the ISS, which included supplies for the crew, as well as equipment for research and station support. The objectives of the scientific payload range from biological research to demonstrations of the surgical robotic system and robotic manipulators developed by GITAI.
The HPE Spaceborne Computer-2 has also arrived on the ISS, designed to analyze other research on the station using artificial intelligence and machine learning without the need to transmit large amounts of data to Earth.
In March 2022, the former head of Roscosmos, Dmytro Rogozin, announced the termination of the supply of Energomash NVO engines to the United States and the refusal of maintenance of missile components remaining on the American side. In particular, he spoke about the RD-180 and RD-181 engines used in Atlas V and Antares.