HOUSTON, February 22, 2022 (Nanoracks PR) — The past several months have been very busy here at Nanoracks, and we have continued our momentum into 2022 with another cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Northrop Grumman’s 17th (NG-17) commercial resupply mission carried five Nanoracks customer payloads on board the Cygnus spacecraft. These experiments will help improve environmental research on Earth and demonstrate technology necessary for future in-space economies. Additionally, this mission includes the first two “space trash bags” which will be used to collect waste from inside the ISS and deploy it into a reentry burn orbit on behalf of NASA.
The NG-17 Cygnus spacecraft, filled with 3,700 kg of cargo, launched into orbit on February 19 using an Antares Rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia.
There are several innovative Nanoracks customer payloads on board this mission:
- Longwave Infrared Sensing demonstratoR (LisR) is a 4U hosted payload that takes precise measurements of Earth’s surface temperature to monitor water resources. Testing LisR is a vital step to enable efficient water use on a planetary scale and is intended to show that these measurements can be taken by very small cameras in small satellites that can be flown in constellations to cover the globe every day. LisR will be installed on the Nanoracks External Platform (NREP) for several months as it tests a thermal infrared sensor. The NREP is mounted to the Japanese Experiment Module External Facility (JEM-EF) on the ISS and enables Nanoracks customers to demonstrate remote sensing, communications, and materials science experiments with dedicated power and data connections.
- The NanoSatellite Atmospheric Chemistry Hyperspectral Observation System (NACHOS) project is an in-space technology validation of a compact, high-resolution, CubeSat-based hyperspectral imager (HSI) for trace-gas imaging. Specific trace gasses detectable by NACHOS include nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is produced by fossil fuel combustion and can serve as an easily monitored tracer for greenhouse gasses, and sulfur dioxide (SO2), a major volcanic gas and pollutant emitted by coal-fired power plants. NACHOS is a 3U CubeSat project that typically employs up to three science/engineering senior undergraduates and/or post-bachelor students each year under Los Alamos National Laboratory’s summer student program. NACHOS will be deployed from the External Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (E-NRCSD) in May 2022. The E-NRCSD is attached to the outside of the Cygnus spacecraft and deploys CubeSats roughly 30 miles above the ISS after the Cygnus completes its mission and unberths from the space station.
- Performance Characterization of Integratable AI Modules Processed on a Radiation Tolerant Computer System (RadPC-AI) tests the performance of AI algorithms previously developed for power system monitoring on a radiation tolerant computing technology called “RadPC.” The AI algorithms have the potential for increased efficiency at detecting and diagnosing electrical power failures in spacecraft avionics. The RadPC-AI hardware and software is developed by collaborators associated with Montana State University. The project is funded by a Small Business Innovation Research grant and builds upon work done on two previous payloads integrated and launched by Nanoracks.
- The Moon Gallery is an international collaborative artwork display that aims to eventually be the first permanent museum on the Moon. The gallery consists of 64 miniature art displays from 64 artists around the world. It is the first of its kind. The artists all share similar goals of building culture in space. The artists developed art that reflects our time on earth and our future in the stars. Hosted inside a Nanoracks Nanolab, the artwork will serve as test subjects for precise object tracking by specialty cameras inside the enclosure. This display aims to be the archetype of a museum platform that will eventually be flown to the lunar surface.
- SpaceHummus from Aviv Labs demonstrates technology for controlling plant growth using optogenetics, or synthetic biology and light. This technology could contribute to systems for sustaining life on the lunar surface, in harsh environments on Earth, and on future space and habitat missions on the ISS and beyond. The primary goal of the mission is to grow chickpeas, a highly nutritious legume that could sustain future astronauts. Chickpeas have never been grown in space before. In parallel with the on-orbit growth mission, Aviv Labs has established an educational mission in collaboration with D-Mars and Ecological Greenhouse Ein Shemer in which students in Israel can mimic the space experiment in their classrooms.
- Nanoracks’ Bishop Airlock will be used to dispose of trash aboard the ISS. This first-of-its-kind space trash bag technology is launching in collaboration with NASA to determine if this new system for eliminating waste collected aboard the ISS via the Bishop Airlock provides a more efficient and sustainable model for future ISS inhabitants. Nanoracks’ new trash disposal concept utilizes a specially designed trash container which can hold up to 600 lbs of trash. This system is based on the foundational, flight-proven designs of Nanoracks’ commercial satellite deployment equipment, and one that is critical for future operations on commercial space stations, such as Nanoracks and Voyager’s Starlab.
The Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the ISS yesterday morning. Our team cannot wait to begin working with our customers to activate and operate their payloads! It’s our honor to play a part in these innovative developments that are key to advancing the future of space.