NASA Cygnus OA-8 mission includes 'space laser' tests - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

NASA Cygnus OA-8 mission includes ‘space laser’ tests

This morning, at 7:19 AM EST, the Orbital ATK Antares rocket, carrying the Cygnus spacecraft, lifted off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The Cygnus OA-8 mission is a Commercial Re-Supply mission for the International Space Station (ISS).

Orbital ATK is an American aerospace manufacturer and defense industry company headquartered in Dulles, Virginia.

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility located on Wallops Island, Virginia, just south of Ocean City, Maryland.

Trina Patterson, Sr. Manager of Communications for Orbital ATK’s Launch Vehicles Division said Sunday “it was a beautiful nominal flight of our Antares rocket carrying Cygnus into orbit”.

Cygnus OA8 and OA9 in pre-assembly. (Michael Jordan)

The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to rendezvous with the International Space Station on November 14, 2017 to deliver equipment, supplies and experiments to the astronauts on board.

In addition to the much needed supplies – including fresh fruit – the Cygnus space craft will be delivered to the ISS and will be used, for the first time, as an extension of the orbiting laboratory for an experiment involving microgravity research and development.

The significance of the space laser tests cannot be understated, as the science impacts both commercial and military applications.

According to NASA, “Traditional laser communication systems use transmitters that are far too large for small spacecraft. The Optical Communication Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) tests the functionality of laser-based communications using CubeSats that provide a compact version of the technology. Results from OCSD could lead to significantly enhanced communication speeds between space and Earth and a better understanding of laser communication between small satellites in low-Earth orbit.”

The Cygnus space craft is also being considered as one solution for expanding livable habitats in space with long term missions in mind.

Please enjoy the following photo essay of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket launch by staff photographer Michael Jordan.

NASA Wallops Island Cygnus OA-8 Antares Launch_-9243.jpg credit Michael Jordan BPE

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