Cygnus cargo craft leaves international space station

Oct 22, 2013
The Antares rocket, with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard, launches from Pad-0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, on September 18, 2013

A privately-operated unmanned cargo ship built by Orbital Sciences Corporation left the International Space Station on Tuesday after its first successful demonstration mission, NASA said.

After undocking from the orbiting research outpost with the help of a robotic arm directed by on board the station, Cygnus fully separated at 1131 GMT as it was over the Atlantic Ocean.

Images of the operation were broadcast live on NASA TV.

The capsule was to perform a series of maneuvers to position itself to re-enter the atmosphere on Wednesday, October 23 at 1818 GMT, when it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.

The unmanned spaceship attached itself to the ISS on September 29, marking the first successful demonstration mission of a cargo resupply flight by Orbital Sciences.

It is the fourth such mission by a private company to ferry supplies to global astronauts, a capacity the United States lost when the ended in 2011.

In 2012 California-based SpaceX, owned by entrepreneur Elon Musk, became the first private enterprise to send its own cargo-bearing spacecraft to the ISS and back.

Both companies have billion-dollar NASA contracts to deliver cargo to the ISS on multiple missions over the coming years.

Unlike SpaceX's Dragon capsule, Cygnus cannot return to Earth intact.

NASA said astronauts have loaded Cygnus "with items no longer needed" aboard the ISS and that these will also burn up with the spacecraft when it plunges back to Earth.

Explore further: Video gives astronaut's-eye view inside NASA's Orion spacecraft

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cygnus cargo craft readies to leave space station

Oct 21, 2013

A private cargo ship built by Orbital Sciences Corporation is preparing to leave the International Space Station early Tuesday and burn up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, NASA said Monday.

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

Dec 19, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

Dec 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

maxb500_live_nl
3 / 5 (4) Oct 22, 2013
With billions of dollars from NASA not to mention the free technical support and almost free launch facility access typically costing hundreds of millions by themselves i would hardly call these 2 companies fully private. That's like calling the US military a private sector. Because of the companies who deliver both to military and to private weapons buyers.
ScottyB
not rated yet Oct 23, 2013
Space X is entirely private, initial funded by Elon Musk's own pocket, the money they have from nasa is to fulfil a contract, it doesn't cost you twenty quid to drive six miles does it but you will pay that money to a taxi firm. its the same principle.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.