WASHINGTON — Fresh fruit and ice cream bars have made their two-day journey to the International Space Station, along with thousands of pounds of other supplies and research experiments.
Dulles-based Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft was launched aboard an Orbital ATK Antares rocket at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Nov. 12 and docked at the space station at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday, two days later.
For the first time, the Cygnus craft will act as an extension of the space station’s research space, with science experiments performed inside the cargo module while docked to the laboratory.
The 7,400 pounds of cargo, supplies and scientific experiments will first be unloaded, and the Cygnus craft will remain docked to the station for three weeks.
After detaching from the space station, the Cygnus craft has a secondary mission. It will deploy 14 “microsatellite” Cubesats, a record number. It will then return to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.
The weekend launch at Wallops was delayed by one day.
Orbital ATK’s NASA contract calls for it to deliver a total of 66,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station over the course of the multiyear contract.
Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.