News / Science & Technology

Cygnus Spacecraft Brings Cargo to ISS Astronauts

Cygnus Spacecraft Brings Cargo to ISS Astronautsi
X
September 30, 2013 5:41 AM
A privately-owned spacecraft named Cygnus successfully docked with the International Space Station on Sunday, becoming the second such craft to do so. The docking came a week later than planned, in part due to a software issue and traffic at the orbiting station.
Cygnus Spacecraft Brings Cargo to ISS Astronauts
Suzanne Presto
A privately-owned spacecraft named Cygnus successfully docked with the International Space Station on Sunday, becoming the second such craft to do so.  The docking came a week later than planned, in part due to a software issue and traffic at the orbiting station.
 
The unmanned Cygnus spacecraft was drifting near the International Space Station, as planned, when Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency used the space station's robotic Canada-arm to grab the cargo capsule. Astronauts then used the Canada-arm to connect the capsule to the orbiting lab.  And with that, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences became the second U.S. company to show it can resupply the ISS.

It's a feat that had only been accomplished by a handful of governments until just last year, when the California-based company SpaceX made history by docking its Dragon spacecraft.  Orbital now joins SpaceX as a private provider of cargo resupply services.

"Today we delivered more cargo on a commercial basis than has ever been delivered to the space station - 700 kilograms," said former NASA astronaut and executive vice president of Orbital Sciences Frank Culbertson, who spoke at a NASA briefing later Sunday.  "And I know the crew is going to be very happy when they get the hatch open and get a chance to see all the things that are in there and obviously the things that will keep their mission going."    

Cargo included food, clothing and science experiments.

Watch NASA video of Cygnus' arrival at the Space Station:



It wasn't always smooth sailing for this mission, even though the Cygnus spacecraft launched atop Orbital's Antares rocket with a picture perfect liftoff from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia on September 18.  The rendezvous with the space station had to be postponed when a data formatting issue between the Cygnus and the ISS emerged and required a software patch.  The delay was extended due to traffic congestion, as a Russian spacecraft carrying astronauts was set to reach the station on September 25.     

The United States is relying on private industry to ferry cargo to the station while NASA focuses on developing the next generation of spacecraft that can go to an asteroid or Mars.  The U.S. space agency acted as a lead investor in Orbital Sciences and SpaceX as they developed their crafts.     

NASA's Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program, praised the public-private partnership.  He said the goals were to use NASA investments to kickstart the commercial space industry, and also to spur reliable, cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit and the space station.     

"And the third was to become a customer for these services once they emerged," he said. "I think we can say today conclusively that we've added another partner to the list that helped us achieve these goals 100 percent."  

NASA has awarded Orbital a $1.9 billion contract for resupply missions, the first of which is planned for December.  SpaceX already has started fulfilling its $1.6 billion contract.    

It's crucial for the U.S. to be able to reach the space station, says Orbital's Culbertson, something it has not been able to do since NASA retired its aging space shuttle fleet in 2011.   

"We know and understand and accept the responsibility this is critical to the continuation of the station and the continuation of U.S. leadership in space, as well as an international partnership that I think is a shining example of how nations can work together when they have the ability to let their engineers, their scientists, their operators and their professionals work together and get politics out of the way," he said.

Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft is designed to be filled with the station's trash and to burn up upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere.  Its planned undocking is set for October 22.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid