Antares 230+ | Cygnus NG-17 (S.S Piers Sellers)

Lift Off Time/Launch Window
(Subject to change)
February 19, 2022 – 17:40:03 UTC | 12:40:03 EST
Mission Name
Launch Provider
(What rocket company is launching it?)
Northrop Grumman
(Who’s paying for this?)
National Aeronautics and Aerospace Administration (NASA)
Antares 230+
Launch Location
LP-0A, Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, USA
Payload mass
3,723 kg (8,208 lb)
Where is the spacecraft going?
Low Earth orbit, International Space Station rendezvous
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
No, this is not a capability of Northrop Grumman
Where will the first stage land?
It will crash into the Atlantic Ocean
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
No, this is not a capability of Northrop Grumman
Are these fairings new?
How’s the weather looking?
This will be the:
– 16th launch of Antares
– 11th launch of an Antares 230 series rocket
16th orbital launch attempt of 2022
Where to watch
Official NASA livestream

What’s All This Mean?

Northrup Grumman will be launching another Commercial Resupply (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA on the NG-17 mission. The Antares 230+ rocket will carry 6,600 kilograms (about 14,500 pounds) of food, water, experiments, and other necessary resources. These resources are packed into a Cygnus cargo vehicle, which is built by Northrop Grumman.

ng-17, northrop grumman
Northrop Grumman NG-17 mission patch. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Payloads On NG-17

NG-17 is Northrup Grumman’s 17th cargo resupply mission to the ISS as a part of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS). These missions have been essential for transporting crew supplies, like food and clothing, as well as new scientific research experiments to the station since 2014.

Colgate Skin Aging Experiment

A set of engineered human skin cells, the ISS U.S. National Lab’s Colgate Skin Aging experiment aims to study how human skin ages. A natural aspect of the skin, aging occurs more rapidly in a microgravity environment allowing scientists to more easily study how human skin ages.

When the skin ages, it loses its structural ability to protect from infection and regulate body temperature, for example. If scientists were to gain a better understand of how the skin changes, they could develop ways to combat the causes of natural aging.

MicroQuin 3D Tumor

The MicroQuin 3D Tumor experiment will test and measure how a drug works on breast and prostate cells in a microgravity environment. While in microgravity, the drug will be able to affect the cells in a more natural and three-dimensional manner than while under the influence of gravity.

Results would be able to help researchers gain a better understanding of the areas to best attack with the drug when treating cancerous growths.

OGA H2 Sensor Demo

In order for astronauts to survive in an environment such as the ISS, they must have the ability to generate, or regenerate, oxygen. The Oxygen Generation System (OGS) on the ISS uses electrolysis, the separation of hydrogen and oxygen in water, to produce breathable oxygen for the astronauts.

The OGA H2 sensor demo will be testing new sensors for the OGS. Current sensors need to be replaced every 201 days because they are susceptible to moisture and can start to provide inaccurate readings. The main purpose of these sensors is to ensure that no hydrogen reenters the oxygen stream. Data from the technology demonstration will be applicable to all spacecraft.

OGA H2, ng-17, northrop grumman
OGA H2 Sensor Demo before flight (Credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

Space As-Lib

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has developed new battery technology which will be tested on the ISS sometime this year. It will demonstrate the operation of a lithium ion battery capable of operating in a vacuum and at extreme temperatures. This solid state battery would, if successful, be able to be used in a variety of applications on future space exploration missions.

JAXA, ng-17, northrop gruman
Space Al Lib experiment undergoing vacuum thermal testing (Credit: JAXA)

What Is The S.S. Piers Sellers Cygnus?

The Cygnus Cargo Vehicle is a two part vehicle consisting of parts built across the globe. The service module is based on the GEOStar platform and a pressurized module built by Thales Athena in France. The service module provides power and other critical spacecraft functions to the spacecraft. The pressurized section is where all of the cargo is stored. It is important that this section is pressurized because items such as food are among the resources onboard.

S.S. Piers Seller

Each Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft is named after an individual who played a pivotal role in human spaceflight. The previous Cygnus spacecraft, NG-16, was named after Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian-American to fly in space. Onizuka lost his life along with six other crew during his second spaceflight on the STS-51 L mission.

This Cygnus cargo vehicle is named after Piers Sellers, a NASA Astronaut born in England who completed three spaceflights on the the space shuttle. Sellers was selected to be an astronaut in 1996. He spent two years training and also worked in Moscow as a liaison for ISS computer software.

This was only a small part of his work spent helping the construction of the ISS. He garnered a total of 559 hours in space and 41 total hours conducting Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) at ISS. Sellers retired as an astronaut in 2011, at the end of the space shuttle program, but stayed with NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Piers sellers, ng-17, northrop grumman
Astronaut Piers Sellers (Credit: NASA)

The Antares 230+ For NG-17

The Antares 230+ is a two stage expendable rocket designed by Northrop Grumman to launch the Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS. Capable of carrying up to 8,000 kg (~17,600 lb) into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), it is the largest rocket operated by the company.

Antares has launched 14 times since its inaugural flight on April 21, 2013 with one major failure. During its fifth launch on October 28, 2014, both the vehicle and the payload were destroyed. The first stage engines were later deemed to be the cause of the failure. The rocket’s AJ26 engines were then changed to Russian RD-181 engines for future flights.

Antares 230+, launchpad, NG-13 mission.
The Antares 230+ rocket prior to liftoff of the CRS-2 NG-13 mission. (Credit: NASA)

First Stage

The first stage uses two Russian RD-181 engines, providing 3,844 kN (~864,000 lbf) of the thrust. The stage runs on Rocket Propellant 1 (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOX). It has a specific impulse (ISP) of 311.9 s at sea level and 339.2 s in vacuum. The stage burns for 215 seconds before being jettisoned and crashing into the ocean.

Second Stage

The second stage uses a Castor-30XL solid rocket motor, fueled by hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) and aluminum. The stage provides 474 kN (~107,000 lbf) of thrust, and runs for 156 seconds.

Launch Profile

From Lift-Off
EventAltitude km (mi.)
00:00:00Stage one ignition0 (0)
00:00:03Lift off0 (0)
00:03:18Main engine cut-off (MECO)83.9 (52.1)
00:03:24Stage one separation88.9 (55.2)
00:03:54Fairing separation111 (68.9)
00:03:59Interstage separation114 (70.8)
00:04:07Stage two ignition118 (73.3)
00:06:52Stage two burnout/orbital insertion178.3 (110.8)
00:08:52Payload separation178.1 (110.6)

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