S.S. Kalpana Chawla Cygnus on its way to NASA’s International Space Station for resupply mission

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on October 03, 2020 Published on October 03, 2020

US space station (file photo)

The spacecraft named in honour of the first female astronaut of Indian descent, Kalpana Chawla.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Saturday successfully launched the S.S. Kalpana Chawla Cygnus into space for its resupply mission.

The Northrop Grumman Resupply Mission is headed for the ISS and is set to rendezvous with the space station on October 5.

“Launch success! We have confirmed that the solar arrays are fully deployed on the S.S. Kalpana Chawla #Cygnus. Next stop @Space_Station!” Northrop Grumman tweeted from its official account.

“Cygnus is set to rendezvous with the @Space_Station on Oct. 5, with live coverage on @NASA TV beginning at 3:45 a.m. EDT,” it added.

The spacecraft used for the mission has been named in honour of the first female astronaut of Indian descent, Kalpana Chawla.

As a tradition, Northrop Grumman names each Cygnus after an individual “who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight.”

“Chawla was selected in honour of her prominent place in history as the first woman of Indian descent to go to space,” the company said.

“The Cygnus spacecraft for this resupply mission is named in honour of Kalpana Chawla, who made history at NASA as the first female astronaut of Indian descent. Chawla, who dedicated her life to understanding flight dynamics, lost her life during the STS-107 mission when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere,” said NASA.

The spacecraft is carrying nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific investigations, technology demonstrations, commercial products, and other cargo to the ISS, NASA said.

The supplies carried by spacecraft include research on cancer treatments, a crop of radishes to cultivate, a VR camera, among others.

Cygnus will also be hosting the Spacecraft Fire Experiment -V (Saffire-V) experiment for the fifth time. The experiment is meant to better understand how large-scale fires behave in space. It will also carry Northrop Grumman’s SharkSat payload, “an internally developed prototype supporting on-orbit technology demonstrations.”

The spacecraft was launched on an Antares 230+ rocket and will remain at the space station until mid-December.

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Published on October 03, 2020
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