Orbital Sciences Corp. Cygnus commercial cargo craft has arrived at the International Space Station on its Orbital-1 resupply mission. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins captured Cygnus with the station’s robotic arm at 6:08 a.m. EST Sunday. He and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio worked quickly and opened the resupply craft’s hatches six hours later.
The NASA astronauts were joined in the cupola by Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata during Cygnus’ arrival. After its capture, Wakata took over the controls of the Canadarm2 and berthed Cygnus to the Harmony node’s Earth-facing port. Wakata then checked for pressure leaks while Mastracchio bolted and latched Cygnus to Harmony.
Over 2,700 pounds of gear was delivered to the International Space Station including crew provisions and scientific gear. The first experiment unloaded was the Ant Forage Habitat Facility which will study ant behavior and colonization in microgravity. The student experiment could provide solutions to real world problems such as routing cargo traffic and scheduling airline flights.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden called up to the space station Monday morning from Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and congratulated the crew on its successful Cygnus capture. Orbital Sciences Corp. managers also participated in the call from Dulles, Va. giving their thanks to the crew.
Cygnus will stay attached to the Harmony node for the next five weeks when it will be released Feb. 18 full of trash. The commercial cargo craft will descend into the Earth’s atmosphere Feb. 19 over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery destruction.
Normal station operations continue as the six member Expedition 38 crew conducts international research, maintains station systems and exercises to stave off the effects of long term weightlessness.
Mastracchio checked on work using the NanoRacks commercial experiment gear in the Kibo laboratory. He operated a microscope analyzing microbes on petri dishes. NanoRacks is a private company that offers its commercial research facilities on the space station to businesses and universities.
In the Russian segment of the orbital laboratory, Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin set up communications gear inside the Rassvet mini-research module. Flight Engineer Ryazanskiy sampled air throughout the station including the brand new Cygnus.
Kotov also worked on the Great Beginnings experiment that demonstrates the achievement of Russia’s human spaceflight program. He later stowed trash inside a docked Progress cargo ship and updated the station’s inventory management system.
Ryazanskiy also conducted research for the ongoing Russian experiment Kulonovskiy Kristall which studies charged particles in a magnetic field. He also assisted Tyurin for a cardiovascular evaluation using an exercise bike.