The second (and possibly final, pending the Antares return to flight) launch of Cygnus aboard an Atlas V was successful yesterday evening, and Cygnus has arrived at the International Space Station. Like all Cygnus, this one was named for a deceased astronaut, in this case Rick Husband. During his career, Husband made two flights, the first one being as pilot aboard STS-96, an ISS resupply mission aboard Discovery, and the other being as commander aboard STS-107, the tragic final flight of Columbia, which broke up during its return on February 1, 2003.
As with the last flight, the greater capacity of Atlas V allowed them to stretch the Cygnus into the “Enhanced Cygnus” design. (The redesigned Antares 200 will also be able to lift the Enhanced Cygnus.) This mission is carrying 3,513 kg of payload: 1,139 kg of crew supplies (clothing, food, etc., including items for the Russian crewmembers; both American and Russian cargo providers share duties routinely), 1,108 kg of ISS gear (fresh filters, toilet parts, circuitboards, etc.), 777 kg of scientific experiments, 98 kg of computer gear, and 157 kg of US spacesuit parts. Additionally, Cygnus is carrying a unique experiment called Saffire-1 which will not be left on the station. It’s an experiment which will deliberately start a fire inside the Cygnus’ pressurized module and see how it behaves and how well various materials stand up to it. The experiment will be entirely autonomous and will only occur after the spacecraft had departed the station and is ready to deorbit.