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SpaceX Launches Cygnus Space Truck For The Fiirst Time

January 30, 2024 at 17:07 UTC from pad LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral (Florida, USA) by SpaceX launch teams with the support of combat crews of the 45th Space Wing of the US Space Force The launch of the Falcon-9FT Block-5 (F9-295) launch vehicle with the Cygnus NG-20 cargo ship was completed.

Today’s launch marked the beginning of Cygnus’ 20th cargo mission.  SpaceX was not involved in the previous 19, all of which were carried out using Antares or Atlas V rockets. Northrop Grumman named the ship Cygnus in honor of Patricia Robertson, a NASA astronaut who died in a plane crash in 2001. It was selected for the astronaut corps in 1998 and was scheduled to fly to the ISS in 2002.

Eight minutes and 20 seconds after liftoff, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth, landing softly at Cape Canaveral. According to SpaceX’s mission description, this was the 10th launch and landing for this first stage of the launch vehicle.

Cygnus separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage in low Earth orbit approximately 14 minutes and 45 seconds after liftoff.  The cargo ship then began its journey to the International Space Station (ISS). If all goes according to plan, Cygnus will arrive at the ISS on Thursday, February 1. Cygnus will then spend about six months docked with the ISS before descending back to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Previously, Cygnus was launched on an Antares rocket, the first stage of which had Russian engines installed. Currently, Northrop Grumman is working on a modification of the Antares, in which Russian engines will be replaced with American ones. The company plans to use Falcon 9 to launch Cygnus at least three times

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