Cygnus Leaves the ISS

The Cygnus cargo ship just after being released from the ISS robotic arm. Click for larger. Credit: NASA TV

Orbital Sciences Corporation is putting the final touches on the first its first operational resupply of the International Space Station with the Cygnus cargo ship.

Cygnus left the the ISS this morning at 11:41 UTC when it was released the robot arm 260 miles above the South Atlantic east of Argentina. Once released Cygnus “set sail” so to speak by firing thrusters for a minute and a half to get it out of a safety zone maintained around the ISS.

On Wednesday (19 February) a couple of braking manuvers will slow the Cygnus enough to cause it to fall out of orbit in a controlled fashion.

Cygnus was launched a little over a month ago and on 12 January after a three day journey from Wallops Island Virginia, it arrived at the ISS with almost 2,800 pounds of supplies.

After the supplies were removed from Cygnus it was refilled with trash from the station. No recycling here, the Cygnus and its contents will burn up during the re-entry interface with the atmosphere. The re-entry if we can call it that, will occur at around 18:20 UTC tomorrow, Wednesday 19 February over the Atlantic between South America and New Zealand.

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