WASHINGTON — Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Cygnus space capsule arrived at the international space station with 1,260 kilograms of cargo Jan. 12, the company said.

Cygnus was launched Jan. 9 by Orbital’s Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. The mission, which follows a demonstration cargo-delivery back in September, is the first of eight Orbital owes NASA under a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract signed back in 2008.

Cygnus will remain at station for about 40 days, according to Frank Culbertson, executive vice president and general manager of Orbital’s Advanced Programs group. The expendable spacecraft, which will be filled with trash after its cargo is unloaded, could remain at station as long as 45 days, if NASA needs the extra time. 

It is a busy time at the international space station. During the course of Cygnus’ stay, Russian cosmonauts will go on a spacewalk, and two cargo spacecraft — Russia’s Progress freighter and Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s Dragon — will visit the outpost. 

That means the exact duration of Cygnus’ visit “is really on NASA’s side of the equation,” Culbertson said Jan. 9 at a postlaunch press conference. “They have to work all this traffic.”

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Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...