Cygnus (spacecraft)

The Cygnus cargo spacecraft is an unmanned supply ship, which by the company Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC ) has been developed as part of the COTS project of NASA. The aim of the system is to supply the International Space Station ( ISS) with cargo and spare parts. In order for the American supply to the station and thus the independence of the international partners after setting the space shuttle flights in 2011 is to be achieved. The development of a manned version is drawn from Orbital Sciences into consideration. The Cygnus spacecraft launch on the OSC also developed by Antares rocket into orbit.

Cygnus is the Latin word for swan and for the same constellation.


In early 2006, NASA launched the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Program ( COTS ) to organize the transport of equipment, goods and crews to the International Space Station with the help of private companies. For the privately organized development of spacecraft high cash prizes and lucrative transportation contracts were in prospect. Following the bankruptcy of the original favorites Rocketplane Kistler and the associated failure of the supply system Kistler K-1, NASA selected in February 2008 as a replacement the Cygnus Project. Orbital Sciences Corporation received a cash prize of 70 million dollars and a contract for the supply of approximately twenty tons of supplies to the ISS for their design. Therefore, the use of eight space shuttles are provided. Should the development and use of the transporter to be successful, but a gradual payment of $ 1.9 billion is provided.

Unlike some competitors, Orbital Sciences Corporation is an established company that has already developed several satellites and launchers in the context of commercial and military contracts and used successfully. For an accelerated and cost-effective development of the Cygnus space shuttle, the use of already proven technology is planned. The flight of a dummy on board a also developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation rocket Antares (formerly Taurus II ) was originally planned for late 2010, but then took place after several delays in April 2013. The first demonstration flight Cygnus 1 was launched on September 18, 2013 into orbit and docked at September 29, 2013 at the ISS. Cygnus was on 12 January 2014 1260 kg material - successfully docked to the ISS - especially for research purposes, including ants.


The Cygnus cargo spacecraft is similar to other space transporter divided into two major components service module and cargo module. The service module is based on the well developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation STAR satellite platform as well as components of the Dawn spacecraft. The weight of the service module is currently estimated at about 1.8 tons. It is driven by the hypergolic fuels hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. The two solar generators of the service module deliver around four kilowatts of electrical power.

Two different cargo modules are intended for the transport of cargo to the ISS. On the one hand a pressurized module is provided that is based on the developed in Italy Multi- Purpose Logistics Module. This version is fully loaded weigh about 3.5 tons and can carry a maximum payload of two tons of cargo in a 18.7 -gallon interior. By the use of the large common berthing Mechanism transport of complete International standard payload rack is possible. The second version is based on the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier NASA. This component is also fully loaded weigh 3.5 tonnes and can take around two tons external payloads in a non- pressurized transport framework. This version is particularly intended for the transport of bulky and experiments parts such as batteries and gyroscopes, which are mounted in the frame of the outboard panels on the exterior of the ISS.

Both versions are captured using the station robotic arm Canadarm2 own near the ISS and docked at a Common Berthing Mechanism on the U.S. portion of the ISS. This docking is carried out by the Japanese HTV and the transporter of the SpaceX Dragon, the last approach control is taken from the ISS.

After unloading the cargo of the truck with trash and unneeded items is loaded. Just like the Japanese HTV and the European ATV then the transporter burns on his re-entry into the atmosphere over the Pacific.


As of March 21, 2014 All times in ( UTC)