Space station astronauts give huge trash can the boot

February 19, 2016 by Marcia Dunn
Space station astronauts give huge trash can the boot
This photo taken from NASA TV shows a capsule loaded with 1.5 tons of trash, released from the International Space Station on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. NASA supplier Orbital ATK launched the capsule, named Cygnus, to the space station in December, full of food, clothes and other goods. Astronauts removed the precious contents, then filled it with garbage for incineration. The spacecraft should re-enter the atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific on Saturday. (NASA via AP)

The International Space Station just got a whole lot tidier.

A pair of NASA astronauts released a capsule loaded with 1.5 tons of trash Friday as the space station soared over Bolivia. The capsule should re-enter the atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific on Saturday.

NASA supplier Orbital ATK launched the capsule to the space station in December, full of food, clothes and other goods. The astronauts removed the precious contents, then filled it with garbage and old equipment for incineration.

Commander Scott Kelly and Timothy Kopra, the Americans on board, sent computer commands to set the Cygnus free. The stunning 250-mile-high view showed the slowly backing away, its two circular solar wings looking like open umbrellas.

Kelly, who's less than two weeks from wrapping up an unprecedented yearlong mission for NASA, thanked everyone who worked on the Cygnus—"this great vehicle."

"It's been a pleasure," he noted.

"A beautiful release," replied Mission Control.

Virginia-based Orbital ATK plans to launch another Cygnus with more supplies from Cape Canaveral, Florida, late next month. The flight was delayed a few weeks after black mold contaminated some of the cargo bags. Technicians had to disinfect everything.

Space station astronauts give huge trash can the boot
This photo taken from NASA TV shows a close up of a capsule loaded with 1.5 tons of trash released from the International Space Station on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. NASA supplier Orbital ATK launched the capsule, named Cygnus, to the space station in December, full of food, clothes and other goods. Astronauts removed the precious contents, then filled it with garbage for incineration. The spacecraft should re-enter the atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific on Saturday. (NASA via AP)

SpaceX, meanwhile, another commercial cargo carrier for NASA, is aiming to make a delivery in the next few months. The company is working to get back on track following a launch accident last summer.

NASA has handed off space station shipments to private business so it can focus on getting astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, namely to Mars. It hopes to do the same with crews next year. For now, U.S. are hitching rides with the Russians.

Explore further: Christmas delivery: First US space station shipment in months

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

Related Stories

Orbital cargo ship arrives at space station

December 9, 2015

Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station on Wednesday, carrying more than 7,000 pounds (3,000 kilograms) of water, food and supplies for global astronauts.

NASA's space-station resupply missions to relaunch

November 29, 2015

NASA's commercial space program returns to flight this week as one of its private cargo haulers, Orbital ATK, is to launch its first supply shipment to the International Space Station in more than 13 months.

Recommended for you

Major space mystery solved using data from student satellite

December 13, 2017

A 60-year-old mystery regarding the source of some energetic and potentially damaging particles in Earth's radiation belts is now solved using data from a shoebox-sized satellite built and operated by University of Colorado ...

Spanning disciplines in the search for life beyond Earth

December 13, 2017

The search for life beyond Earth is riding a surge of creativity and innovation. Following a gold rush of exoplanet discovery over the past two decades, it is time to tackle the next step: determining which of the known exoplanets ...

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.