About a month ago, Orbital Sciences launched its Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration mission to the ISS. The Cygnus spacecraft is a cargo logistics ship designed to be contracted by NASA to ferry cargo to and from the ISS in orbit around the Earth. Cygnus was forced to abort its first approach to the ISS after some of the data it received from the ISS had unexpected values.
Eventually Cygnus was able to dock with the ISS and the remainder of the demonstration mission came off without a hitch. Orbital Sciences announced today that Cygnus has departed the ISS and ended the demonstration mission with NASA. ISS crewmembers detached the Cygnus from the space station after it was attached to the Harmony module for 23 days.
Cygnus delivered 1300 pounds of cargo including food, clothing, and student experiments. Astronauts aboard the ISS loaded Cygnus with items that were no longer needed aboard the space station. The Cygnus was detached from the ISS using the station’s robotic arm and released into space at 7:31 AM EDT.
Engineers at Orbital Sciences will conduct a series of planned burns and maneuvers that will move Cygnus into a destructive reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere on Wednesday, October 23. This mission clears the way for Orbital Sciences to begin commercial missions to resupply the International Space Station.