Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced the successful completion of the first of eight Cygnus TM operational cargo logistics spacecraft missions to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the company’s $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. The Cygnus spacecraft unberthed from the ISS yesterday morning at 6:41 a.m. (EST), completing a 37-day stay at the orbiting laboratory. Today, Cygnus reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand at approximately 1:20 p.m. (EST).
“We are very proud to have a second flawless cargo mission to the space station brought to a successful conclusion this afternoon,” said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Following Cygnus’ successful demonstration mission in late 2013 conducted under our COTS research and development partnership with NASA, the picture-perfect execution of the first operational mission is a great way to start the CRS contract. We are looking forward to the next Antares launch and Cygnus cargo delivery mission currently scheduled for early May.”
The CRS-1 mission began on January 9, 2014 when Orbital’s Antares TM rocket launched Cygnus into orbit from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. Cygnus, which carried 2,780 lbs. (1,260 kg.) of cargo and science payloads, rendezvoused and berthed with the ISS three days later on January 12. Prior to its departure from the station, the astronauts loaded the cargo module with approximately 3,250 lbs. (1,477 kg.) of unneeded items for disposal.
Under the CRS contract with NASA, Orbital is using Antares and Cygnus to deliver up to 44,000 lbs. (20,000 kg.) of cargo to the ISS over eight missions, including the CRS-1 flight just completed, through late 2016. For these missions, NASA will manifest a variety of essential items based on ISS program needs, including food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts and equipment, and scientific experiments.