Spacecraft named in memory of Kalpana Chawla to depart from ISS: Here is how to watch it live

The Cygnus spacecraft will be bringing back the Saffire V investigation, the SharkSat hosted payload, along with “several thousand pounds of trash”.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will be airing the departure of Cygnus spacecraft from the International Space Station (ISS) soon. The uncrewed spacecraft has been named in the memory of India-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla who was the first female astronaut of Indian descent. The Northrop Grumman’s resupply spacecraft will be returning back to Earth after spending the last three months on the ISS. According to the space agency, Cygnus has delivered about “8,000 pounds of supplies, scientific investigations, commercial products, hardware, and other cargo to the orbiting outpost” when it flew towards its destination on 2 October 2020 and reached the station on 5 October 2020.

 Spacecraft named in memory of Kalpana Chawla to depart from ISS: Here is how to watch it live

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter approaches the International Space Station where the Canadarm2 robotic arm is poised to capture it for docking.
Credits: NASA

Now, the craft is scheduled to begin departure on 6 January 2021 at 8:15 pm IST (9.45 am EST). The release of the craft has been set for 8:40 pm IST (10.10 am EST) and the live coverage will be available on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Explaining the mechanism of the craft’s departure, NASA said that some flight controllers on the ground will be sending commands to detach Cygnus from the ISS. The craft will be sitting in the Unity module’s Earth-facing port, from where it will be manoeuvred into the correct place and finally released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins has been given the responsibility to monitor all the systems of the spacecraft once it has departed from the space station.

But Cygnus is not coming back alone. As it carried a lot of material to the ISS, it will be also bringing back the Saffire V investigation, the SharkSat hosted payload, along with “several thousand pounds of trash”. Also, Cygnus’ return is not a straight path. It will be conducting an “extended mission” while in orbit.

Once the stipulated experiments are over, Cygnus will be performing a safe re-entry and burning up in Earth’s atmosphere, as per NASA.


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