Twenty Dove satellites are currently packed away in their Nanoracks deployers on board the Cygnus spacecraft and awaiting launch. We’re calling these Doves “Flock 2e Prime” as a continuation of the “Flock 2e” series that was launched in a similar manner to the International Space Station in December on the OA-4 mission. The Atlas V rocket will loft the Cygnus into orbit tomorrow (Tuesday, March 22) at 11:05 pm EDT. Cygnus is headed to the International Space Station as part of Orbital ATK’s OA-6 mission.
Astronaut Scott Kelly captured this image of the Cygnus approaching the Space Station on December 9, 2015. 12 Flock 2e Doves were packed inside. Image: NASA
Flock 2e Prime is comprised of our standard RGB imaging Dove satellites, along with Dove satellites capable of imaging in Near-Infrared + RGB, and also a handful of tech demos of our next-generation Dove satellite design. The Cygnus is also filled with crew supplies, a 3D printer, and the (very cool) Saffire-1 flammability experiment. Learn a little more about what else is on board.
Once in orbit, the Cygnus will “chase down” the Space Station over the course of four days. After berthing with the ISS, Expedition 47 crew will unload Flock 2e Prime and prepare for its deployment later this spring.
If the launch is successful, 133 Doves will have made it into Low Earth Orbit over the course of 3 years.
Watch the launch alongside us tomorrow on the NASA TV Livestream.