Commercial U.S. cargo ship carrying food, scientific supplies reaches space station
An Orbital Sciences Corp cargo ship reached the International Space Station on Wednesday with a delivery of food, supplies, science experiments and a fleet of tiny Earth-imaging satellites that will be launched from the orbital outpost. Working from a control panel inside the station's Cupola module, commander Steven Swanson delicately steered the station's 58-foot long (18 m) robotic arm to pluck the Cygnus capsule from orbit at 6:36 a.m. EDT (1036 GMT) as the ships sailed 260 miles (418 km) above northern Libya. The capsule, named SS Janice Voss in tribute to a five-time space shuttle astronaut who died of breast cancer in 2012, blasted off aboard an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket from Virginia on Sunday (July 6). Later on Wednesday, the capsule will be bolted to a docking port on the station's Harmony module so Swanson and his five crewmates can begin unpacking more than 3,600 pounds (1,660 kg) of food, equipment and supplies. The cargo includes 28 shoebox-sized satellites for privately owned Planet Labs, which operates a constellation of Earth-imaging satellites. The satellites will be deployed this summer from a small satellite launcher set up in Japan's Kibo module. Cygnus is to remain berthed at the station until mid-August. Once it is unpacked, it will be refilled with trash and other items no longer needed on the station and released to fly back into the atmosphere for incineration.