Cygnus spacecraft falls to fiery death from International Space Station
A private cargo spacecraft, Cygnus spacecraft, departed from the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday to re-enter Earth atmosphere after wrapping up its months-long service. However, it is falling to its death. In fact, it will have a fiery end over the Pacific Ocean. Built by Northrop Grumman, the robotic Cygnus freighter dubbed SS Piers was undocked by the station's robotic arm at 7:05 a.m. EDT (1105) on Tuesday morning. As of now the Cygnus spacecraft has delivered more than 112,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the astronaut crews aboard the ISS.
The freighter was sent to the Space Station on February 21 with more than 8,300 pounds (3,760 kilograms) of scientific experiments and other supplies for the astronaut crews on the ISS. As reported by Space.com, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins shared that apart from the tons of supplies science and hardware delivered to the ISS, the NG-17 Cygnus SS Piers also completed a reboost of the ISS, bringing a new and important capability to the space station. Talking about the SS Piers' departure, Northrop Grumman Corporation said, “Docked to the ISS since February, Cygnus fired its main onboard engine to adjust the orbit of the station to the desired altitude to support upcoming operations.” The agency also shared that the station orbits approximately 250 miles above earth and requires a periodic reboost.
Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial space, tactical space systems, Northrop Grumman said, “experience gained by the Cygnus program is also being applied to other Northrop Grumman human space programs.” Calling Cygnus the basis of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, he said that the first module planned for NASA's Lunar Gateway will orbit the moon and serve as a staging point for exploration of the lunar surface as well as help in future exploration beyond the moon.