Installation complete! Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft was attached to the International Space_Station at 10:53 a.m. EDT on 23 Oct. 2016 after launching atop Antares rocket on 17 Oct. 2016 from NASA Wallops in Virginia. Credit: NASA
After a two year gap, the first Cygnus cargo freight train from Virginia bound for the International Space Station (ISS) arrived earlier this morning – restoring this critical supply route to full operation today, Sunday, Oct. 23.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft packed with over 2.5 tons of supplies was berthed to an Earth-facing port on the Unity module of the ISS at 10:53 a.m. EDT.
The Cygnus OA-5 resupply ship slowly approaches the space station before the Canadarm2 reaches out and grapples it on Oct. 23, 2016. Credit: NASA TV
The Cygnus OA-5 mission took flight atop the first re-engined Orbital ATK Antares rocket during a spectacular Monday night liftoff on Oct. 17 at 7:40 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s picturesque Eastern shore.
Antares was spewing some 1.2 million pounds of liftoff thrust and brilliantly lighting up the crystal clear evening skies in every direction to the delight of hordes of spectators gathered from near and far.
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket topped with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft launches from Pad-0A, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer
Cygnus is loaded with over 5,100 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its six-person multinational crew.
This was the first Antares launch from Virginia in two years following the rockets catastrophic failure just moments after liftoff on Oct. 28, 2014, which doomed the Orb-3 resupply mission to the space station – as witnessed by this author.
After a carefully choreographed five day chase, Cygnus approached the million pound orbiting outpost this morning.
After it was within reach, Expedition 49 Flight Engineers Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Kate Rubins of NASA carefully maneuvered the station’s 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) Canadian-built robotic arm to reach out and capture the Cygnus OA-5 spacecraft at 7:28 a.m. EDT.
It was approximately 30 feet (10 meters) away from the station as Onishi and Rubins grappled the resupply ship with the robotic arms snares.
Today’s installation of the Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-5 resupply ship makes four spaceships attached to the International Space Station on 23 October 2016. Credit: NASA
After leak checks, the next step is for the crew to open the hatches between the pressurized Cygnus and Unity and begin unloading the stash aboard.
The 21-foot-long (6.4-meter) spacecraft is scheduled to spend about five weeks attached to the station. The crew will pack the ship with trash and no longer needed supplies and gear.
It will be undocked in November and then conduct several science experiments, including the Saffire fire experiment and deploy cubesats.
Thereafter it will be commanded to conduct the customary destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere.
Cygnus cargo spacecraft atop Orbital ATK Antares rocket on Pad-0A prior to blastoff on Oct. 17, 2016 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Orbital ATK’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer
The Cygnus spacecraft for the OA-5 mission is named the S.S. Alan G. Poindexter in honor of former astronaut and Naval Aviator Captain Alan Poindexter.
Under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA, Orbital ATK will deliver approximately 28,700 kilograms of cargo to the space station. OA-5 is the sixth of these missions.
Watch for Ken’s continuing Antares/Cygnus mission and launch reporting. He was reporting from on site at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA during the launch campaign.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
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