What’s on board Cygnus headed to ISS

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.— A cold afternoon on Virginia’s Eastern Shore was interrupted Saturday as Northrop Grumman’s 15th commercial resupply mission tore through the sky above NASA Wallops. 

Its largest audience was nowhere to be seen.

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic closed the visitor center and field on Wallops Island, most viewers watched from their computers as the Antares rocket hurled nearly 8,200 pounds of cargo out of Earth’s atmosphere. 

At about 12:38 p.m., Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft was headed toward the International Space Station, packed with scientific investigations, technology demonstrations, commercial products and other critical supplies. 

Northrop Grumman named the 15th spacecraft after pioneering NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, also portrayed in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures” for her role in making human spaceflight possible.

Though most viewers couldn’t catch sight of the rocket in person — there’s plenty to know about the 21-foot tall craft’s payload before it reaches the ISS on Monday. 

On its 15th journey, Cygnus’ thousands of pounds in cargo will include a Spaceborne Computer from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, an experiment studying muscle strength in worms, and an investigation into how microgravity might optimize the creation of artificial retinas. 

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