Cargo ship reaches space station on resupply run

March 26, 2016
This NASA photo shows a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft on a resupply mission to
This NASA photo shows a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft on a resupply mission to the International Space Station lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 22, 2016

An unmanned cargo ship packed with science experiment materials plus food, water and clothes successfully docked at the International Space Station on Saturday, NASA partner Orbital ATK said.

The cargo ship, Cygnus, which blasted off Tuesday on the resupply run, was carrying 7,900 pounds (3.6 metric tons) of supplies to the station for the ISS crew of six astronauts, as well as components to support dozens of science and research probes.

Cygnus was captured by the station's robotic arm, operated by crew members, and guided into its berthing port. The operation was over by 1452 GMT.

"Our flexible Cygnus spacecraft has a lot of work left to do. Following its stay at the ISS, and for the first time, we will undertake three experiments onboard the ," said Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK's Space Systems Group.

The pressurized vessel will stay at the ISS until May. After loading it with trash and once it is at a safe distance from the station, NASA engineers will then set off a blaze inside the capsule to see how large flames behave in space.

NASA has set off tiny controlled fires in space in the past, but never tested how large flames react inside an orbiting space capsule.

Cygnus' cargo also includes an instrument that, for the first time, will allow experts to evaluate, from space, the chemical composition of meteors entering Earth's atmosphere.

It was also carrying a new 3D printer and another scientific highlight includes a so-called Gecko Gripper, a mechanism similar to the tiny hairs on the feet of geckos that makes it possible for them to stick to surfaces.

This technology could one day be used on the hands and feet of robots that would move along the exterior of spacecraft to carry out inspections and repairs.

It is Orbital's fifth supply mission to the ISS, as part of a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to deliver necessities to the astronauts living in space.

Explore further: Image: Spacewalkers successfully install new docking adapter for commercial crew flights

More information: NASA: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Orbital ATK: www.orbitalatk.com/

Related Stories

Most distant catch for ESA station

August 19, 2016

An ESA tracking station has acquired signals from the international Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, across more than 1.4 billion km of space.

'New port of call' installed at space station

August 19, 2016

With more private spaceship traffic expected at the International Space Station in the coming years, two spacewalking US astronauts installed a special parking spot for them on Friday.

Recommended for you

NASA team probes peculiar age-defying star

August 29, 2016

For years, astronomers have puzzled over a massive star lodged deep in the Milky Way that shows conflicting signs of being extremely old and extremely young.

Milky way had a blowout bash six million years ago

August 29, 2016

The center of the Milky Way galaxy is currently a quiet place where a supermassive black hole slumbers, only occasionally slurping small sips of hydrogen gas. But it wasn't always this way. A new study shows that 6 million ...

NASA's Juno successfully completes Jupiter flyby

August 29, 2016

NASA's Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles ...

0 comments

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.