Cygnus Spacecraft Successfully Delivers 8,200 Pounds of Cargo to Space Station

The Cygnus spacecraft, developed by Northrop Grumman, successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, delivering over 8,200 pounds of supplies and science experiments. NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara used the ISS’s robotic arm to capture the spacecraft, with astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli serving as a backup.

The Cygnus spacecraft launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Tuesday to begin its journey to the ISS. Among the experiments onboard is a test of 3D printing in space, specifically focusing on the production of small metal products in microgravity. This test could prove valuable for future long-term missions to the moon and Mars, where access to hardware stores may be limited.

The European Space Agency’s Rob Postema explained that this investigation will provide insights into how a 3D printer behaves in space. The team plans to print specimens to understand the differences between printing in space and on Earth, explore the types of shapes that can be printed, and ensure the safe and efficient production of metal parts in space.

This marks the 20th trip of a Northrop Grumman spacecraft to the ISS. The Cygnus will remain attached to the ISS until May, at which point it will reenter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up.