Cygnus en route for Sunday rendezvous with space station

Orbital Sciences' first demonstration mission will deliver 1,300 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station.
By | Published: September 19, 2013 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard, is seen in this false-color infrared image, as it launches from Pad-0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport , Wednesday, September 18, 2013, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. Cygnus is on its way to rendezvous with the space station.
NASA/Bill Ingalls
While the newest commercial cargo vehicle to join the International Space Station’s resupply fleet launched Wednesday morning on its demonstration flight, the Expedition 37 crew aboard the orbiting complex was hard at work with medical research, emergency simulation training, and preparations for Sunday’s arrival of the new space freighter.

NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia, launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 10:58 a.m. EDT Wednesday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 261 miles (420 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean. Cygnus will rendezvous with the station Sunday on its demonstration mission to deliver 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms) of cargo, including food and clothing, to the space station’s Expedition 37 crew.

All three Expedition 37 crew members — Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano — gathered around a laptop computer screen in the station’s Destiny laboratory to watch a live video stream of the launch of Cygnus.

Nyberg and Parmitano began their workday aboard the space station reviewing Cygnus’ cargo manifest and discussing with ground teams the plan to unload the cargo. During the month that Cygnus is berthed to the station, the crew will unload its 1,300 pounds of cargo and reload it with trash for disposal when Cygnus departs for a destructive reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The two astronauts then moved on to some onboard training to review the installation procedure for Cygnus. When Cygnus nears the station on Sunday, Parmitano, with assistance from Nyberg, will use the robotics workstation in the cupola to command the station’s 57-foot (17 meters) robotic arm, Canadarm2, to reach out and grapple the vehicle. He will then maneuver the arm to guide Cygnus to its docking port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node for installation.

All three Expedition 37 crew members participated in onboard training to review their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency aboard the station such as a fire or rapid depressurization. Afterward, they tagged up with flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston to review the drill and discuss any changes needed.