Solar panel trouble on cargo capsule bound for space station

Science News

Northrup Grumman’s Antares rocket lifts off the launch pad at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, in Wallops Island. Va. The rocket is scheduled to deliver a supply capsule to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A Northrop Grumman cargo capsule ran into trouble with a solar panel after Monday’s liftoff to the International Space Station.

Only one of the two solar panels on the Cygnus capsule opened successfully following the predawn liftoff from Virginia.

Northrop Grumman officials assured NASA that there’s enough power from the solar panel for Wednesday’s planned space station rendezvous, but the space agency was still assessing the situation.

It’s too early to know whether the capsule would be stable enough to be captured by the space station’s robot arm, if the problem persists, said NASA’s Dina Contella, a space station manager.

Northrop Grumman launched the capsule from coastal Wallops Island with more than 8,200 pounds of equipment and experiments, including brackets needed for upcoming spacewalks to upgrade the space station’s power grid. It’s dubbed the S.S. Sally Ride after the first American woman in space who died a decade ago.

The Virginia-based company has been sending shipments to the space station since 2013. There’s been only one failure in its previous 18 supply runs, a launch explosion in 2014.

SpaceX is NASA’s other contracted delivery service.

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