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Thales Alenia Space completes new version of Cygnus
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Thales Alenia Space completes new version of Cygnus
by Erica Marchand
Paris, France (SPX) Apr 02, 2024

Since the inception of the Cygnus pressurized cargo modules (PCM) in the early 2000s, designed to transport supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), there has been significant evolution in their design and capacity. Initially capable of carrying 2,750 kg and providing a volume of 18 m3, the Cygnus spacecraft, consisting of a Service Module from Northrop Grumman and a PCM by Thales Alenia Space, has served the ISS with vital supplies including food, water, spare parts, and scientific equipment through biannual missions.

The program saw a notable advancement from the OA-4 mission onwards, introducing a larger Cygnus version with a payload of 3,750 kg and a volume of 27 m3, marking the highest resupply capacity to the ISS until then. Currently, engineers at Thales Alenia Space are finalizing the Cygnus module for the NG-21 mission, scheduled for delivery to Northrop Grumman in May 2024, with ongoing work on PCM 22.

In a new development, Thales Alenia Space has completed the primary structure of an even larger Cygnus PCM, designed to carry payloads up to 5,000 kg with a volume of 36 m3. Scheduled for its initial pressure test this autumn to confirm structural integrity, this expanded version aligns with NASA and Northrop Grumman's ambitions for more substantial crewed space exploration missions, set for delivery in 2025.

Thales Alenia Space's commitment to the Cygnus program, demonstrated by the construction and delivery of up to 25 PCMs, underscores the collaborative effort with Northrop Grumman to advance human space exploration. Walter Cugno, VP for Exploration and Science at Thales Alenia Space, emphasized the role of evolving design and state-of-the-art technology in meeting the demands of long-duration missions and commercial resupply of orbital infrastructures, reflecting a partnership that has significantly contributed to space exploration over the past 15 years.

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