On December 10, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s
operations team mated the Cygnus spacecraft to the Antares rocket that will launch it to the International Space Station on December 18. Later today they will conduct “Flight Sim 2” which will simulate the complete launch sequence to ensure that the integrated Antares and Cygnus systems perform as designed. Post-test data analysis will follow immediately and will likely continue into tomorrow.
Next up is adding so called “late load” cargo into Cygnus which includes, among others: 33 cubesats that will be deployed from the space station at a later date; student experiments studying such areas as enzyme activity in microgravity, DNA mutation rate, cell regeneration and oil bubble formation; and even an experiment comparing differences in group behavior of ants living in microgravity conditions versus those living on Earth. Cameras will record the ants living on the space station and software will analyze their movement patterns and interaction rates. Students in K-12 will be able to observe the space station ants in near-real-time and conduct their own classroom experiments.
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