More than two months after delivering several tons of supplies and scientific experiments to the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft, the SS Alan Bean, will depart the orbiting laboratory on Friday, Jan. 31.
Live coverage of the spacecraft’s release will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 9:15 a.m. EST, with release scheduled for 9:35 a.m.
Cygnus will demonstrate a new release position for departure operations and will incorporate the first ground-controlled release. The new orientation allows for easier drift away from the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. With Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir of NASA providing backup support, ground controllers will send commands to the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the unpiloted cargo spacecraft after ground controllers remotely unbolt the craft from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module and maneuver it into release position.
Within 24 hours of its release, Cygnus will begin its secondary mission – deploying a series of payloads – before Northrop Grumman flight controllers in Dulles, Virginia, initiate its deorbit and it executes a safe, destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere at the end of February.
More details of Cygnus’ mission and Expedition 61 crew activities can be found at: