Headlines > News > U.S. Commercial Cargo Ship Delivery Mission Ends as Canadarm2 Releases Cygnus

U.S. Commercial Cargo Ship Delivery Mission Ends as Canadarm2 Releases Cygnus

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:43 am via: NASA
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Orbital Sciences Cygnus commercial cargo craft completed a month-long delivery mission to the International Space Station Friday when it was released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 6:40 a.m. EDT. Cygnus is now orbiting on its own, separating from the station and heading for a deorbit and a fiery entry over the Pacific Ocean on Sunday.

Expedition 40 Flight Engineers Alexander Gerst and Reid Wiseman were inside the cupola remotely controlling the 58-foot Canadian robotic arm from the robotics workstation. Gerst, who was backed up by Wiseman, was in charge of releasing the resupply vehicle after ground controllers at Mission Control, Houston remotely maneuvered it into the release position following its unberthing from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.

The Cygnus is in the grips of Canadarm2 moments before being released in Feb. 18, 2014 during Expedition 38.

The Cygnus is in the grips of Canadarm2 moments before being released in Feb. 18, 2014 during Expedition 38.

Filled with trash, Cygnus completed its second commercial resupply mission for NASA. Orbital Sciences launched their spacecraft July 13 atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at the Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia on a three-day journey to the orbital laboratory. At least eight more missions will be flown by Cygnus to the station through 2016.

Cygnus delivered nearly 3,300 pounds of science, supplies and spacewalking gear when it was captured and berthed to Harmony July 16. Aboard the spacecraft were items such as food, life support equipment, thermal control hardware and photography and video gear.

Experiment hardware was also on the Cygnus manifest ensuring the continuous international research aboard the orbital laboratory.

A flock of nanosatellites was also shipped to the station aboard Cygnus for future release from the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock beginning next week. Individually known as “Dove” satellites, the group will collect continuous Earth imagery documenting natural and man-made conditions of the environment to improve disaster relief and increase agricultural yields.

Hardware upgrades were brought up to the station on the ship for a trio of tiny satellites that float inside the station known as SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). Gear enabling studies for educators, students and private researchers was also delivered for the NanoRacks program in a partnership with NASA under the Space Act Agreement.

The Expedition 40 crewmembers hope to document Cygnus’ reentry Sunday as part of an engineering exercise to study the mechanics of the breakup of a space vehicle. Cygnus is scheduled to deorbit Sunday around 8:30 a.m. EDT.

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