Skip to main content

Orbital becomes second private firm to send cargo craft to ISS

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The mission is the first for one of two private companies involved in carrying frieght to the ISS
  • This ship will be loaded with trash and sent toward Earth, where it'll burn up on re-entry
  • The trip is part of a $1.9 billion contract
  • Next up will be a SpaceX mission in late February

(CNN) -- The first commercial supply mission by Orbital Sciences Corp.'s unmanned Cygnus spacecraft has docked at the International Space Station, NASA said Sunday.

Crew members on the ISS will open the hatch Monday and unload 2,780 pounds of supplies and experiments, the news release said.

With the mission, Orbital officially joins SpaceX as a resupply carrier to the space station. Orbital successfully tested a spacecraft with a smaller payload in mid-September.

"From the men and women involved in the design, integration and test, to those who launched the Antares (rocket) and operated the Cygnus, our whole team has performed at a very high level for our NASA customer, and I am very proud of their extraordinary efforts," said David W. Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Orbital, in a written statement from the company.

The experiments sent up to the six ISS crew members include one that will study how different fuel samples burn in microgravity, which could help designers select future spacecraft materials.

The ship took off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia on Thursday aboard an Antares rocket. A previous attempt at launch was scrubbed in December because the ISS crew needed time to conduct spacewalks for repairs.

It took two hours Sunday morning for the crew to grab the spaceship and attach it to the ISS.

The Cygnus craft will be berthed for 37 days before being loaded with trash and sent back to Earth, Orbital said. It will burn up during re-entry over the Pacific Ocean, officials said.

Orbital has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to make eight flights to the space station under the space agency's commercial supply program.

NASA hired Orbital and SpaceX to start making cargo runs to the space station after retiring its fleet of space shuttles and turning much of its focus toward exploring deep into the solar system.

SpaceX has so far made two of its 12 scheduled flights to the ISS under a $1.6 billion contract. According to NASA's 2014 launch calendar, its next flight is due to launch on February 22 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Orbital's next mission is scheduled for May 1.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Space
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1929 GMT (0329 HKT)
This image from the Hubble Space Telescope indicates that a huge ring of dark matter likely exists surrounding the center of CL0024+17 that has no normal matter counterpart.
Scientists are closer to seeing a vast, invisible universe as a spectrometer in Earth orbit picks up possible clues of dark matter.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
The Soviets sent stray dogs up to conquer space. This is what happened next
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Scientists believe that a hot gas bubble was formed by multiple supernovas.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Robonaut is the next generation dexterous robot
Life aboard the International Space Station.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
NASA's New Horizons mission hurtles toward Pluto in historic 3 billion mile expedition.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
Rosetta spacecraft arrives at its destination, Comet 67P after a 10-year journey around the solar system.
After a 10-year chase the Rosetta spacecraft is now orbiting a comet
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
"Here comes the sun" indeed, and it was just barely all right.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Seems NASA's fascination with the moon is in the past. It's focused on something far more menacing: incoming asteroids
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
Scientists looking for signs of life in the universe -- as well as another planet like our own -- are a lot closer to their goal than people realize.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
The U.S. Army brainchild "Project Horizon" was born. Its proposal to leap beyond the Soviets opened with the line: "There is a requirement for a manned military outpost on the moon."
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1943 GMT (0343 HKT)
solar flare july 2014
From Earth, the sun appears as a constant circle of light, but when viewed in space a brilliant display of motion is revealed.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
The full moons of this summer -- July 12, August 10 and September 9 -- are supermoons, as NASA calls them.
June 29, 2014 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
If you think you saw a flying saucer over Hawaii, you might not be crazy -- except what you saw didn't come from outer space, though that may be its ultimate destination.
June 27, 2014 -- Updated 0147 GMT (0947 HKT)
The U.S. space shuttle program retired in 2011, leaving American astronauts to hitchhike into orbit. But after three long years, NASA's successor is almost ready to make an entrance.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
When I first poked my head inside Virgin Galactic's newest spaceship, I felt a little like I was getting a front-row seat to space history.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
The sun is putting on a fireworks show again.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2302 GMT (0702 HKT)
A year is a very long time on Mars -- 687 days. NASA's Curiosity rover can attest that it's enough time for some unexpected life changes.
May 2, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
At least one corner of the solar system may be serving up an ice-and-water sandwich, with the possibility of life on the rocks.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
You can't see it happening on Earth, but space itself is stretching. Ever since the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been getting bigger.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know.
ADVERTISEMENT