Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cygnus spacecraft docked to ISS

CanadArm helps Cygnus dock to ISS.

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus unmanned cargo spacecraft docked with the International Space STation this morning at about 6:44 a.m. MDT. Using the CanaArm robotic arm, ISS Expedition 37 astronauts grabbed the Cygnus as it approached to within 10 meters of the station, then gradually guided the craft to the docking port on the US-built Harmony station module.

Astronaut Karen Nyberg at the docking controls in the ISS Cupola with a great view.

With the spacecraft safely secured, astronauts will perform all required safety checks and pressurizations before opening the hatch on Monday. Once all cargo is unloaded, the craft will eventually be loaded with trash and waste and undocked, deorbited to burn up in the atmosphere during re-entry.

The successful docking of Cygnus today brings the program up to two commercial enterprises, Orbital Sciences and SpaceX, that can be counted on to provide additional supplies to the ISS. That of course means that any future stations or spacecraft in orbit of the Earth could be provided additional supplies on a regular basis, or in an emergency if it's ready. I don't think we're far off from the time when FedEx or UPS or some other delivery company will be using space orbits to make quick deliveries around the world or into space.

Now, if we can just get humans sent into space as cheaply!

You can see more pictures and a detailed description of the docking at NASA

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