Successful launch of first Cygnus spacecraft
Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%), was the star of today’s launch of the first of nine Cygnus PCM modules on board of the Antares launcher. This operation, which is intended as a demonstration of the new commercial vehicle for the refueling of the International Space Station, took off from the NASA base of Wallops Island, Virginia.
The PCM (Pressurized Cargo Module) Cygnus, developed for Orbital Science Corporation, is designed to cargo transport - supplies for the crew, spares and scientific experiments – for the International Space Station. Following five days of navigation, the ship will be captured by the Space Station's robotic arm and attached to the Nadir port of Node 2, another element built by Thales Alenia Space. When the ship will reaches the station, it will be welcomed by the Italian ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, who is in orbit for the long-duration "Volare" mission which has been undertaken by the Italian Space Agency. Following 30 days at the station, the vehicle will complete its mission by unlocking and then disintegrating into the atmosphere on the way back.
This first launch is particularly significant because it confirms the validity of Italian technology in the cutting-edge space sector. Today Thales Alenia Space is a global benchmark in the field of satellite systems for telecommunications, monitoring of the environment and the Earth's climate, defense and security, exploration and scientific research.