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Station Crew Captures Cygnus

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:54 pm via: NASA
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The International Space Station’s Expedition 40 crew successfully captured Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus resupply vehicle with the station’s robotic arm at 6:36 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

Controlling the 57-foot Canadarm2 from a robotics workstation inside the station’s cupola, Commander Steve Swanson, with assistance from Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst, grappled Cygnus as it flew within about 32 feet of the complex.  Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman joined his crewmates in the seven-windowed cupola to assist with the capture and help coordinate the activities.  At the time of grapple, the orbital laboratory was soaring around 260 statute miles over northern Libya.

The International Space Station's robotic arm, Canadarm2, grapples the Orbital Sciences' Cygnus cargo craft Image Credit: NASA TV

The International Space Station's robotic arm, Canadarm2, grapples the Orbital Sciences' Cygnus cargo craft Image Credit: NASA TV

With Cygnus now securely in the grasp of Canadarm2, the robotics officer at the Mission Control Center in Houston will remotely operate the arm to guide the cargo craft to the install position at the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. Once Cygnus is in place, Wiseman will oversee the Common Berthing Mechanism operations for first and second stage capture of the cargo ship, assuring that the vehicle is securely attached to its port with a hard mate. NASA Television coverage of berthing operations begins at 8:30 a.m.

After Wiseman removes the Centerline Berthing Camera System that provided the teams with a view of berthing operations through the hatch window, he will pressurize the vestibule between Harmony and Cygnus and conduct a leak check. Once that is complete, Swanson and Gerst will open the hatch to the vestibule and outfit the area for the opening of Cygnus’ hatch around 6 a.m. Thursday.

This is Orbital’s second cargo delivery flight to the station through a $1.9 billion NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract. Orbital will fly at least eight cargo missions to the space station through 2016.

The Orbital-2 mission is delivering almost 3,300 pounds of supplies to the station to expand the research capability of the Expedition 40 crew. Among the research investigations aboard Cygnus are a flock of Earth-imaging nanosatellites, hardware to enable a trio of free-flying robots to perform 3-D mapping inside the station and a host of student experiments.

After Cygnus’ mission at the station is completed in August, the cargo ship, which will be filled with trash, will be robotically detached from Harmony and released for a destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere.

Cygnus launched atop an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket at 12:52 p.m. Sunday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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