Cygnus arrives at the International Space Station

Orbital Sciences’ commercial cargo craft was delayed a week due to a software glitch.
By | Published: September 30, 2013 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Cygnus commercial resupply craft for ISS
The Cygnus commercial resupply craft is installed by the Canadarm2 to the Harmony node.
A week after its original approach date, Orbital Sciences’ commercial cargo craft Cygnus has arrived at the International Space Station. The Expedition 37 crew captured Cygnus with the Canadarm2 at 7 a.m. EDT September 29. Cygnus launched September 18 aboard an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Orbital Sciences uploaded a software fix for a navigation data mismatch that occurred during its approach September 22. NASA managers opted to wait until after Wednesday’s Soyuz launch and docking to restart capture and berthing activities.

Cygnus was operating safely behind the space station by about 1,491 miles (2,400 kilometers) while mission managers and ground controllers tested the software patch and planned September 29’s second approach attempt. Cygnus began a series of thruster burns toward the orbital laboratory September 26 after station managers gave their final approval.

As Cygnus met its demonstration objectives and moved closer to the space station, Expedition 37 Flight Engineers Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg watched and worked in tandem with Mission Control. Parmitano was in the cupola at the Canadarm2 controls monitoring its approach. Nyberg was his backup at the secondary robotics workstation inside the Destiny laboratory.

When Cygnus met its final demonstration objective of pointing a tracking laser at a reflector on the Kibo laboratory, it moved to its capture point about 33 feet (10 meters) from the station. Cygnus turned off its thrusters, operated in free drift, and Parmitano maneuvered the Canadarm2 to grapple and capture Cygnus.

Parmitano operated the Canadarm2 to move Cygnus and attached it to the Harmony node at 8:44 a.m. The hatches to Cygnus were opened Monday, September 30, at 4:10 a.m. EDT.