ISS Snags Cygnus, Crew To Open Hatch Today

By  //  September 30, 2013

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Launched Sept. 18 aboard Antares rocket

ABOVE VIDEO: The very first unmanned Cygnus Spacecraft to visit the International Space Station was captured by the Station’s robotic arm yesterday after a slow approach and successful testing of the crafts systems. The craft launched on an Antares rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility earlier this month.

A week after its original approach date, Orbital Sciences’ commercial cargo craft Cygnus has arrived at the International Space Station.

The Cygnus commercial resupply craft is installed by the Canadarm2 to the Harmony node. (NASA image)

The Expedition 37 crew captured Cygnus with the Canadarm2 at 7 a.m. EDT Sunday. Cygnus launched Sept. 18 aboard an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The ISS crew will open the Cygnus hatch this morning and unload 1,200 pounds cargo.

› Read more about Cygnus

Orbital Sciences uploaded a software fix for a navigation data mismatch that occurred during its approach Sept. 22. NASA managers opted to wait until after Wednesday’s Soyuz launch and docking to restart capture and berthing activities.

The Cygnus cargo spacecraft is just a few feet away from the International Space Station's Canadarm2. (NASA image)
The Cygnus cargo spacecraft is just a few feet away from the International Space Station’s Canadarm2. (NASA image)

Cygnus was operating safely behind the space station by about 1,491 miles while mission managers and ground controllers tested the software patch and planned Sunday’s second approach attempt. Cygnus began a series of thruster burns towards the orbital laboratory Thursday night after station managers gave their final approval.

Luca Parmitano
Luca Parmitano

As Cygnus met its demonstration objectives and moved closer to the space station, Expedition 37 Flight Engineers Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg watched and worked in tandem with Mission Control. Parmitano was in the cupola at the Canadarm2 controls monitoring its approach. Nyberg was his back up at the secondary robotics workstation inside the Destiny laboratory.

› View Cygnus mission briefing graphics
› Read about Cygnus’ launch

When Cygnus met its final demonstration objective of pointing a tracking laser at a reflector on the Kibo laboratory it moved to its capture point about 10 meters from the station. Cygnus turned off its thrusters, operated in free drift, and Parmitano maneuvered the Canadarm2 to grapple and capture Cygnus.

Parmitano operated the Canadarm2 to move Cygnus and attached it to the Harmony node at 8:44 a.m. The hatches to Cygnus will be opened Monday afternoon after leak checks and power connections.

Orbital Sciences is the second company to send a commercial cargo craft to the space station. SpaceX was the first company to send its own cargo ship with two successful commercial resupply missions and two demonstration missions under its belt.