Orbital ATK Cygnus 6 space truck

The unmanned Cygnus cargo mission OA-6 went up Saturday on a Russian/American Atlas V, successfully delivering a new 3d printer to the International Space station. The ISS crew snagged the Cygnus today with their robotic arm.

Interesting side note on this mission, before Cygnus 6 plunges to its fiery reentry doom it’s going to test artificial gecko feet and be used for a fire-in-space experiment.

Busy weekend at ISS

Elon Musk’s Dragon spacecraft left the International Space Station Saturday after delivering 5000 lb of cargo, and in the wee hours of this morning a Russian Progress unmanned cargo lifter undocked with a full load of garbage, freeing up some parking spaces (video replay on NASA TV at noon today). The Progress will stay nearby for a while to assist with some engineering experiments, and is eventually destined to burn up on reentry on Oct 19th.

Around 2:00pm EDT there will be a course adjustment to dodge some incoming debris left over the 2003 launch of a Cosmos communications satellite.

An Orbital Sciences Cygnus, named in honor of Deke Slayton, is scheduled to launch on an Antares from Wallops tonight. This will be the first Antares launch to use a Castor 30XL upper stage; the payload will include the Planetary Resources Arkyd-3 test satellite and nearly 3 tons of supplies. Coverage starts at 4:00pm EDT on NASA TV, launch at 5:45.

Falcon Nine should be on the pad by now… yup.

SpaceX has their newest version of the Falcon9 ready to lift a Canadian telecommunications satellite for Orbital Sciences. The live webcast starts at 5pm EDT.

Update: Missed the launch window, mission scrubbed until Thanksgiving.

Update: Scrubbed again… after ignition, which is a good trick. Not clear yet if it’s the same problem, but they’re taking the bird down to look at the engines and will try again in a few days.

Another successful Minotaur launch!

The Minotaur family of rockets use motors originally designed for intercontinental nuclear missiles, repurposing weapons of mass destruction for scientific missions.

The Minotaur I & II are based on the Minuteman II, a cold war ICBM which my father helped build.

The Minotaur III through VI+ are based on the Peacekeeper (MX missile) which both my father and I worked on during the Reagan era.

Orbital Sciences Corporation, which builds the minotaurs for the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development and Test Directorate, also uses Dad’s STAR motors (originally engineered for Pegasus and Delta vehicles) in the upper stages.

NASA’s latest Minotaur launched from Wallops last night contained 28 mini-satellites, one of which was built by Thomas Jefferson High School.