At 8:05 EST AM Sunday morning, Orbital Sciences‘ Cygnus spacecraft successfully connected to the International Space Station’s Harmony Node, marking a success for the company’s first contracted mission with NASA. This is the first of eight cargo missions the company is to fulfill under its $1.9 billion contract with NASA.
“Our first mission under the CRS contract with NASA was flawlessly executed by our Antares and Cygnus operations team, from the picture-perfect launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to the rendezvous, capture and berthing at the space station this morning,” Orbital’s President and CEO David W. Thompson said in a statement.
The spacecraft was launched towards the space station on Thursday afternoon atop one of Orbital Sciences Antares rocket, and spent the next few days in orbit aligning itself with the International Space Station to prepare for this morning’s arrival on board the station.
At 6:08 EST AM Sunday morning, the spacecraft was grapped by the International Space Station’s robotic arm, which was controlled by NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins. The craft was attached to the station’s Harmony Node by Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.
The Cygnus craft contains a total of 2,780 pounds of cargo, including dozens of sciences experiments to be performed by the space station’s crew. The ship’s hatch will be opened either later today or tomorrow, and the crew will then begin the process of unloading.
Cygnus will remain attached to the space station for 37 days, during which time it will be loaded with about 2,800 tons of “disposable cargo” (aka trash). The Cygnus craft will then undock from the station for a “destructive re-entry” over the Pacific Ocean.