WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of the newest U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft to deliver supplies to the International Space Station and undocking of the fourth European Space Agency cargo vehicle.
Coverage for departure of the Cygnus spacecraft begins at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 22. The spacecraft has been attached to the space station since Sept. 29 on a demonstration cargo resupply mission by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.
Coverage for departure of the fourth European Space Agency (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4) cargo spacecraft begins at 4:45 a.m. Monday, Oct. 28.
Cygnus delivered about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food, clothing and student experiments to the Expedition 37 crew aboard the space station. Future flights of Cygnus will significantly increase NASA’s ability to deliver new science investigations to the only laboratory in microgravity.
Astronauts will load Cygnus with items no longer needed and detach the spacecraft from the station’s Harmony module using the orbiting complex’s robotic arm. The crew will release Cygnus at 7:30 a.m. Orbital engineers then will conduct a series of planned burns and maneuvers to move Cygnus toward a destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Cygnus was launched on the company’s Antares rocket on Sept. 18 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Orbital is the second of NASA’s two partners taking part in the agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. The goal of COTS is to develop safe, reliable and cost effective cargo transportation systems. Following a successful demonstration mission, the company is poised to begin regular resupply missions.
The ATV-4 spacecraft, named Albert Einstein by ESA in honor of the 20th century theoretical physicist and icon of modern science, launched atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana June 5. The spacecraft docked to the aft port of the Russian Zvezda Service Module June 15, delivering more than 7 tons of supplies.
ATV-4 also will be loaded with items no longer needed aboard the space station. The spacecraft will back away from the station to a safe distance for an engine firing that will enable it to make a planned destructive return through Earth’s atmosphere Saturday, Nov. 2.
Preparations also are under way for launch of a new expedition crew to the space station. Launch is scheduled for 11:14 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Nov. 6, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. New video of launch preparations will begin airing on NASA Television Oct. 22.
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