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Cygnus NG-11



The NG-11 Cygnus is the eleventh Cygnus flight for NASA and the ninth to liftoff from Pad-0A at Wallops. The NG-11 mission is also the final cargo mission for NASA by Northrop Grumman under the agency's Commercial Resupply Services 1 program. To mark the occasion, Northrop Grumman named the NG-11 Cygnus the S.S. Roger Chaffee in honor of NASA astronaut Roger Chaffee, who was killed in the Apollo 1 fire alongside crewmates Gus Grissom and Ed White, Jr.

Loaded with 7,600 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware, this Northrop Grumman’s 11th commercial resupply NASA-contracted mission. The Cygnus, carrying 3,436 kilograms cargo, is scheduled to be captured by the station’s robotic arm at about 5:30 a.m. Eastern April 19. It will remain at the station for about 90 days before being unberthed, after which it will move to a higher orbit and fly an extended mission of at least six months to test its ability to serve as a free-flying platform for experiments and technology demonstrations.

Of that cargo, 1,569 kilograms is set aside for science investigations. That research includes a rodent experiment to test the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory, an experiment by a company called FOMS to test the production of high-quality optical fibers in microgravity and two robots called Astrobees that will be able to maneuver within the station supporting research there.

The Astrobees are a successor to SPHERES, a set of small, spherical robots that have been on the station for several years for technology demonstration and educational applications. “SPHERES has been on orbit for more than a decade,” said Maria Bualat of NASA’s Ames Research Center at a pre-launch briefing April 16. “They’re kind of limited in their compute power, and they’re just aging.”

Besides the Cygnus, the Antares carried 60 “ThinSat” secondary payloads, released from the rocket’s upper stage several minutes after the Cygnus deployment along with a single conventional cubesat. Each ThinSat is has the same length and width of a single-unit cubesat but is only a fraction as thick, enabling more to be flown in the same volume.

Students from schools in nine states built the ThinSats flown on this mission as part of educational projects sponsored by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. The ThinSats, deployed in orbits at an altitude of 200 to 250 kilometers, will remain in orbit for about five days before they reenter. “It’s going to give us a lot of information that normally doesn’t get picked up” because satellites rarely operate at such low altitudes, said Chris Hale, program manager for Virginia Space ThinSat Program.

Alternate Names

  • CygnusNG11
  • 44188
  • S.S. Roger Chaffee
  • NG-11

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2019-04-17
Launch Vehicle: Antares
Launch Site: Wallops Island, United States

Funding Agency

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Resupply/Refurbishment/Repair

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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