Orbital Sciences Corporation
(NYSE:ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that its
cargo logistics spacecraft successfully completed its rendezvous and approach maneuvers with the International Space Station (ISS) and was grappled and berthed with the station by the Expedition 38 astronaut crew earlier this morning. After Cygnus was launched into orbit by Orbital’s Antares™ rocket on Thursday, January 9 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, it completed a series of thruster firings and other maneuvers bringing the spacecraft in close proximity to the ISS. Final approach to the station began at about 3:00 a.m. (EST) this morning, culminating with the station’s robotic arm grappling the spacecraft at 6:08 a.m. when it was about 30 feet (10 meters) from the ISS. Cygnus was then guided to its berthing port on the nadir side of the ISS’ Harmony module where its installation was completed at 8:05 a.m.
“Our first mission under the CRS contract with NASA was flawlessly executed by our Antares and Cygnus operations team, from the picture-perfect launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to the rendezvous, capture and berthing at the space station this morning,” said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “From the men and women involved in the design, integration and test, to those who launched the Antares and operated the Cygnus, our whole team has performed at a very high level for our NASA customer and I am very proud of their extraordinary efforts.”
Cygnus will remain berthed at the ISS until February 18. Cygnus is delivering approximately 2,780 lbs. (1,260 kg.) of cargo and science payloads to the Expedition 38 astronauts. Either later today or tomorrow, the crew plans to open the Cygnus hatch and make initial ingress into its cargo module. Cygnus will remain attached to the station for 37 days before departing with approximately 2,800 lbs. (1,300 kg.) of disposable cargo for a safe, destructive reentry over the Pacific Ocean.