Cygnus spacecraft takes out the trash
The Orbital Sciences/ATK Cygnus CRS-4 mission came to an end today as NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra used one of the International Space Station's (ISS) robotic arms to release the spacecraft from its docking port. Filled with rubbish, the unmanned cargo ship left the station at 7:26 am EST. After a controlled re-entry maneuver monitored by mission control in Houston, it is scheduled to burn up over the Pacific Ocean on Saturday morning.
The CRS-4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on December 6, 2015 at 4:44 pm EST. Following two previous delays due to bad weather, the privately owned and operated Cygnus spacecraft "S.S. Deke Slayton II" set off atop an Atlas V rocket to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) on December 9 at 9:26 am EST.
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The S.S. Deke Slayton II is the first enhanced Cygnus cargo ship to visit the ISS. It carried 53 percent more cargo weight than its predecessor, with about 7,700 lb (3,500 kg) of food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts, equipment, and science experiments for the ISS as part of Orbital Sciences' Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. Once unloaded, it remained docked with the station until the end of its mission, when it was filled with rubbish for disposal.