Science News

Space Station Supplies Arrive In Time For Christmas

Cygnus Spaceship ISS
Scott Kelly via Twitter

The crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) has received an early Christmas gift in the form of their long-awaited resupply shipment.

Cygnus, an American cargo spacecraft made by Orbital ATK and commissioned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), docked with the space station on Wednesday, December 9.

The shipment, which is the first from the United States in over half a year, included groceries, science experiments, Christmas presents and other supplies for the astronauts aboard the space station.

U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly, a retired U.S. Navy Captain who has accumulated more time in space under his belt than any other American, shared a picture of Cygnus on December 9 in which the cargo craft can be seen decked out in what he referred to as “festive lighting” — Christmas colors.

Kelly also shared a picture of the space station’s robotic arm preparing to grab the incoming cargo ship upon its arrival.

The station managed to grab a hold of the cargo vessel as the ship and the station floated 250 miles above the Arabian sea and according to CTV News, just three hours later, it was bolted in place and ready to be ransacked. However, the crew’s schedule pushed back the opening of the container until Thursday.

NASA published a video of the cargo craft’s arrival on their YouTube channel.

Following multiple postponements attributed to mother nature’s lack of an inclination to provide weather deemed acceptable for launch, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft — which is named after the constellation — rocketed off towards the station aboard an Atlas V rocket made by United Launch Alliance (ULA) on December 6.

In regards to the launch, ULA’s NASA mission manager Vern Thorp stated that the “countdown was exceptionally smooth” while noting that it was “one of those countdowns that makes it look kind of boring.”

Before Cygnus departs the orbital space station, the crew aboard the station will be tasked with loading it with trash. After which point, it will descend into the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up upon reentry.

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