WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.- NASA has announced plans to launch a rocket from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to the International Space Station next month.           

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft will take off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Accomack County as early as 2:39 p.m. Oct. 21. NASA says the goal is to deliver science investigations, supplies and equipment.           

Highlights of space station research that will be facilitated by research aboard this mission include: 

  • The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02), mounted on the exterior of the International Space Station, which will look for evidence of dark, strange and anti-matter to help scientists understand how the universe was formed. A series of spacewalks are planned for later this year to prolong the operational life of the AMS-02. Astronauts will cut and reconnect fluid lines, a feat not done before in space, which could prove valuable for future missions at NASA’s upcoming lunar Gateway or missions to Mars.
  • The AstroRad Vest tests a special vest designed to protect astronauts from radiation caused by unpredictable solar particle events. Astronauts will provide input on the garment as they wear it while performing daily tasks, including how easy it is to put on, how it fits and feels, and the range of motion it allows. Garment developers can use this input to improve design. Use of the vest could protect crew members on missions to the Moon and Mars.
  • The Zero-G Oven examines heat transfer properties and the process of baking food in microgravity. It uses an oven designed specifically for use aboard the space station, and may have application on future long-duration missions by offering a way to increase variety in flavor and nutrition of food for crew members.
  • The Made in Space Recycler will test systems needed to reprocess plastic into 3D printing filament that can then be transferred for use to the Made in Space Manufacturing Device, a 3D printer that has operated on the orbiting laboratory since 2016. This has implications for space conservation and deep space missions.

Northrop Grumman will use a new 24-hour late load capability on this mission. NASA said this innovative system includes a mobile clean room and a removable portion of the payload fairing that will permit time-sensitive science experiments to be loaded into Cygnus as late as 24 hours before liftoff.

More information about Northrop Grumman’s commercial resupply missions can be found at: