Cygnus CRS OA-6 approaching the ISS on 26 March 2016.
|Names||Orbital ATK CRS-6|
|Mission type||ISS resupply|
|Mission duration||91 days, 10 hours, 23 minutes|
|Spacecraft||S.S. Rick Husband|
|Spacecraft type||Enhanced Cygnus |
Thales Alenia Space
|Launch mass||7,492 kg (16,517 lb) |
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||23 March 2016, 03:05:52 UTC |
|Rocket||Atlas V 401 (AV-064)|
|Launch site||Cape Canaveral, SLC-41|
|Contractor||United Launch Alliance|
|End of mission|
|Decay date||22 June 2016, 13:29 UTC |
|Reference system||Geocentric orbit|
|Regime||Low Earth orbit|
|Berthing at ISS|
|Berthing port||Unity nadir|
|RMS capture||26 March 2016, 10:51 UTC |
|Berthing date||26 March 2016, 14:52 UTC|
|Unberthing date||14 June 2016, 11:43 UTC|
|RMS release||14 June 2016, 13:30 UTC|
|Time berthed||79 days, 20 hours, 51 minutes|
NASA OA-6 mission patch
Cygnus CRS OA-6, also known as Orbital ATK CRS-6, is the sixth flight of the Orbital ATK uncrewed resupply spacecraft Cygnus and its fifth flight to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. The mission launched on 23 March 2016 at 03:05:52 UTC.
The first COTS demonstration mission with a Cygnus concluded successfully in September 2013 and Orbital commenced operational ISS cargo missions under the Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) program with two missions in 2014. However, the third operational mission, Orb CRS-3, was unsuccessful due to catastrophic failure of its Antares 130 launch vehicle. Orbital discontinued the Antares 100 series in favor of the planned Antares 200, upgraded with newly built RD-181 first stage engines to provide greater payload performance and increased reliability.
While the Antares 200 was under development in 2015–2016, the company contracted with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for the Atlas V launch of CRS OA-4, which occurred on 6 December 2015, to be followed by the Atlas V launch of CRS OA-6 on 23 March 2016.
Orbital ATK plans subsequent launches of CRS OA-5 in August 2016 and CRS OA-7 in November 2016 on the new Antares 230. Together with CRS OA-6, these missions will enable Orbital ATK to cover their initial CRS contracted payload obligation.
Production and integration of Cygnus spacecraft is performed in Dulles, Virginia. The Cygnus service module is mated with the pressurized cargo module at the launch site, and mission operations are conducted from control centers in Dulles, Virginia and Houston, Texas.
On 23 March 2016 (UTC), Cygnus CRS OA-6 was successfully launched by the Atlas V into low Earth orbit. During the flight, the rocket had a first-stage anomaly that led to shutdown of the first-stage engine approximately five seconds before anticipated. The anomaly forced the Centaur upper stage of the rocket to fire for approximately one minute longer than planned, using reserved fuel margin, but did not significantly impact payload orbital insertion. The preplanned deorbit burn successfully deorbited the stage, but not precisely within the designated location. The issue marked the first Atlas V anomaly in over eight years to be publicly acknowledged by ULA.
OA-6 is the fifth of ten flights by Orbital ATK under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. This was the second flight of the Enhanced sized Cygnus PCM. The delay of the NOAA GOES-R satellite from March 2016 to October 2016 created this Atlas V launch opportunity for CRS OA-6 to be launched before OA-5. The mission was launched on 23 March 2016.
In keeping with an Orbital ATK tradition, this Cygnus spacecraft is named the S.S. Rick Husband after the NASA astronaut who commanded the Space Shuttle Columbia's ill-fated STS-107 mission in 2003.
Saffire-1 is a NASA test to study flammability and fire propagation in space, using the CRS OA-6 after it has delivered cargo to the International Space Station. The spacecraft is fitted with various sensors and cameras to record data during what is expected to be a 20-minute fire, to determine how much fire resistance is needed in the ultra-light material used in the spacecraft and astronaut's gear. OA-6 will later disintegrate as it enters the Earth's atmosphere.
After this OA-6 flight, NASA plans to launch two more Cygnus cargo missions in 2016: OA-5 on 6 July 2016 and OA-7 on 30 December 2016. They will be followed by three flights from the extended contract: OA-8E on 12 June 2017, OA-9E later in 2017 and OA-10E in 2018. The schedules in early 2017 are dynamic, due to the first crewed commercial flights (SpaceX, Boeing) to ISS.