Orbital Sciences Poised to Become 2nd Commercial Space Station Resupply Service

October 22nd, 2013

The Orbital Sciences Corps’ Cygnus re-supply capsule departed the International Space Station early Tuesday, lining up the Dulles, Va., based company to become the International Space Station’s second U. S. commercial re-supply service.

SpaceX, of Hawthorne, Calif., became the first in 2012.

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus capsule poised for departure from the International Space Station early Tuesday. Photo Credit/NASA

Orbital Sciences is preparing to launch the company’s first cargo mission to the six person station in December under the terms of a $1.9 billion NASA commercial re-supply services agreement signed with the agency’s International Space Station program in late 2008.

Cygnus, loaded with 2,850 pounds of trash, was unberthed with the station’s Canadian robot arm on Tuesday just after 6 a.m., EDT, then released at 7:31 a.m., EDT.

“Nice work,” NASA’s Mission Control informed astronauts Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg, the robot arm operators.

The capsule will be commanded to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere Wednesday afternoon.

The flight, launched Sept. 18 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport inVirginia, was carried out as a final demonstration exercise sponsored by NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.

Cygnus was berthed to the station on Sept. 29, delivering just over 1,500 pounds of cargo.

COTS was initiated by NASA to take over U. S. cargo responsibilities once assigned to the space shuttle fleet. The shuttle orbiters were retired in 2011.