MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti) – A space freighter developed by a private US company will dock on Sunday with the International Space Station (ISS) delivering about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo to the orbital outpost.
The Cygnus spacecraft, developed by Orbital Sciences, was launched on Wednesday on board the Antares carrier rocket from a NASA launch pad in Virginia.
According to NASA, the spacecraft has successfully reached the initial orbit, opened solar batteries and performed the first orbit readjustment before docking.
ISS astronauts Karen Nyberg (NASA) and Luca Parmitano (ESA) will use the station’s arm to capture Cygnus and then install it on the bottom side of the station’s Harmony module.
The demonstration mission is the first operational flight in space for the Cygnus spacecraft. NASA has awarded Virginia-based Orbital Sciences a $1.9-bln contract covering eight resupply missions to the ISS.
Cygnus is expected to stay at the orbital station for about a month before making a dive in the Earth’s atmosphere to plunge in the Pacific Ocean.
Orbital Sciences was selected in 2008 to work with NASA on the space agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which helps US companies develop privately operated, cost-effective and safe space transportation systems.
Another COTS partner company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), began working with NASA in 2006, and after a successful test flight of its Dragon space freighter in 2012, began flying regular cargo missions to the space station.