On , Northrop Grumman's Cygnus cargo ship will blast off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, headed for the International Space Station (ISS) – the orbiting science lab that has been continuously inhabited for nearly two decades.
Three days later, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy will use the Station's 17-metre-long robotic arm, Canadarm2, to grapple the unpiloted vehicle about 400 km above Earth.
Following the cosmic catch, robotics controllers working jointly from Canadian Space Agency headquarters and NASA in Houston will berth the ship to the ISS. It is expected to remain there until mid-December.
Among its thousands of kilograms of cargo, Cygnus will carry equipment for Canadian study Vascular Aging:
- three Bio-Monitor smart shirts, part of a Canadian-made system to record astronauts' vital signs
- four glucose drinks and test kits
- two Bio-Monitor battery packs
Led by Dr. Richard Hughson, Vascular Aging is the third in a series of experiments designed to shed light on changes to astronauts' hearts and blood vessels caused by spending time in space.
Coverage of the launch will be broadcast on NASA TV on , beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Capture operations will also be broadcast on , beginning at 3:45 a.m. ET (capture scheduled to take place around 5:20 a.m. ET).