Orbital Completes First Cargo Mission for NASA

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WASHINGTON — Orbital Sciences Corp. wrapped up its first paid cargo delivery-and-disposal mission to the international space station on Feb. 19, when its expendable Cygnus spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere and burned up along with a load of trash.

“Telemetry on Cygnus has been lost, which is a good thing,” Orbital spokesman Barron Beneski said around 1:30 p.m. Feb. 19. “It looks like it has re-entered.”

Cygnus detached from its berth at the international space station Feb. 18 after 38 days at the outpost.

In the first of eight flights Orbital owes NASA under a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract awarded in 2008, Cygnus delivered about 1,300 kilograms of cargo to the station after its Jan. 9 launch from Wallops Island, Va.

Counting a demonstration cargo mission completed back in October, Cygnus capsules have now paid two visits to the station. The first mission demonstrated that Cygnus and its carrier rocket, Antares, were ready to begin routine cargo services. 

Cygnus’ next run to the space station is slated to launch May 1 from the Virginia-operated Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island. All the hardware for that mission is now at Wallops, Beneski said Feb. 19.

 

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