Cygnus arrives at ISS with food and supplies

Holiday treats and gifts are among the supplies delivered.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Nov 16, 2017
Two days after launching from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, an un-crewed Cygnus spacecraft carrying food and supplies arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, November 14.

The mission was done as part of a contract between NASA and private spaceflight company Orbital ATK, which assigned the Cygnus the name Gene Cernan in honor of the last NASA astronaut to walk on the Moon.

Cernan died in January of this year at age 82.

Carrying over 7,700 pounds (3,500 kg), Cygnus took just 45 hours to reach the ISS, where a 58-foot (18-meter) long Canadian- built robotic arm operated by NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo Nespoli grappled it at 5:04 AM, 14 minutes behind NASA's official schedule.

Flying 260 miles (418 km) above the southeastern Indian Ocean, Cygnus was placed on the berthing mechanism of the space station's Unity module by the robotic arm several hours later.

The ISS orbits the Earth at a speed of around 17,500 miles (28,000 km) per hour.

Cygnus carried a wide array of supplies, including several science experiments. Among these are mealworms and microclover seeds, which will be observed so scientists can better understand their behavior in microgravity.

Several CubeSats were among the cargo delivered. One contains the bacterium E. Coli, which will be used to study antibiotic resistance in space.

Samples of another bacterium, Staphlococcus aureus, were also delivered and will be used to research treatments for a variety of skin infections.

A laser-based, space-to-ground communications system, which will use two CubeSats. was delivered for testing in orbit. They will be released from the ISS and put into low-Earth orbit, allowing scientists to test how multiple satellites in space can work together.

On behalf of the National Geographic Channel, Cygnus delivered a virtual reality, 3D camera that films in 360 degrees, which will be used to obtain footage of various areas in the space station for a future TV show titled "One Strange Rock."

Work items were not the only thing Cygnus brought to the ISS. Its supplies also included fresh fruit and vegetables for the astronauts, carried in a refrigerator; ice cream and pizza; food for Thanksgiving dinner, and holiday gifts sent by the astronauts' families.

"The crew is going to get some treats when they open the hatch," said NASA deputy space station program manager Dan Hartman before the capsule was launched.

Once all the supplies are unloaded onto the space station, the Cygnus will be loaded with space station trash, and on December 4, undocked from the ISS and released to burn up in Earth's atmosphere.





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