Orbital ATK has resumed delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of its NASA commercial resupply contract. The enhanced Cygnus spacecraft launched to the space station Sunday for a Wednesday rendezvous. This was Orbital ATK's first NASA resupply mission since it suffered a launch failure Oct. 28, 2014.
The spacecraft delivered over 7,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS. Cygnus' arrival kicks off a busy holiday season for the space station that includes the departure of three crew members Dec. 11, the arrival of new astronauts Dec. 15 and another cargo mission.
— NASA (@NASA) December 9, 2015
The enhanced Cygnus spacecraft launched atop United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Sunday after poor weather conditions scrubbed Thursday's scheduled launch. After Sunday's liftoff, Cygnus spent the next days catching up with the space station.
NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly used the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Cygnus at 6:19 a.m. EST Wednesday. Lindgren will depart from the space station Dec. 11 after spending 141 days in space. Kelly is part of the "One Year Crew," along with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, and has spent close to eight months in space after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan March 27.
Cygnus will be installed on the space station's Unity module at 9:45 a.m. EST. After the crew unpacks the spacecraft, it will remain docked to the space station for a month. Cygnus will be filled with trash and cut loose from the ISS for a fiery re-entry in January during which most of the craft will burn up.
Lindgren, along with cosmonaut and Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Kimiya Yui, will return to Earth Dec. 11. Dec. 15 sees the launch of NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake -- the first British astronaut to fly to the space station -- and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The following week, Dec. 21, Russia's Progress resupply spacecraft will launch to the space station.