Space

Cygnus spacecraft finally docks with ISS

Cygnus spacecraft finally dock...
Graphic displaying the current layout of the ISS, as well as the positions of all currently docked spacecraft
Graphic displaying the current layout of the ISS, as well as the positions of all currently docked spacecraft
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Graphic displaying the current layout of the ISS, as well as the positions of all currently docked spacecraft
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Graphic displaying the current layout of the ISS, as well as the positions of all currently docked spacecraft

As of 9:26 am EST, the Orbital ATK Cygnus supply vessel has finally succeeded in docking with the International Space Station following a series of weather-related delays. The Cygnus launched to the ISS last week boasted a 53 percent increase in cargo capacity over previous versions, allowing the spacecraft to replenish the station with roughly 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) worth of consumables, scientific experiments and station hardware.

Following two abortedattempts, the unmanned Cygnus spacecraft was finally hefted into orbit atop an Atlas V launch vehicle from the agency's Cape CanaveralAir Force Station, Florida at 4:44 p.m. EST on December 6. Previous efforts tolaunch the rocket had been thwarted by thick cloud and high winds.

Included in the shipsmanifest were consumables which are expected to keep the crew fed and watered well into May next year, and numerous pieces of equipment that will help the crewof expedition 45 – as well as the upcoming expedition 46 – toundertake an impressive 250 science and research investigationsduring their time in low-Earth orbit.

Astronauts also tookreceipt of a number of Microsoft HoloLens devices for usein its NASA Sidekick experiment, as well as a SAFER jet pack,designed to keep crew members, well... safe, during extra vehicularactivities.

Cygnus-4 made ISShistory upon docking, becoming the first cargo spacecraft to bebirthed to the Earth-facing docking port of the station's Unitymodule. Once the cargo is unloaded the spacecraft will remain dockedto the station for a period of one month.

During this time theersatz module will essentially serve as a cosmic trash can for thestation residents, who will transfer around 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) of refuse to Cygnus prior to undocking the spacecraft, whichwill then de-orbit, burning up in Earth's atmosphere in theprocess.

Source: NASA

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