New commercial supply ship reaches space station

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SpaceX has been launching its supply ships, called Dragon, from Cape Canaveral for more than a year. It’s also working on a possible manned capsule that would ferry U.S. astronauts to the space station, rather than having them hitch rides on Russian rockets. The cargo contract alone, with NASA, is worth $1.6 billion.

From Southern California on Sunday, as Orbital Sciences celebrated its own victory, SpaceX launched a beefed-up Falcon 9 rocket with a Canadian science satellite. The demo flight appeared to go well.

Unlike the SpaceX Dragon, which can return items to Earth, the Cygnus is designed to burn up upon descent. Once unloaded of its 1,300 pounds worth of food, clothes and other items, it will be filled with trash and cut loose on Oct. 22. That’s how the Russian, European and Japanese supply ships end up as well: self-destructing garbage cans.

The latest Cygnus delivery — also a test flight — included student experiments and, almost certainly, chocolate for the crew. That’s what astronaut Karen Nyberg was expecting, anyway, from her astronaut-husband and 3-year-old son.

Both the station crew and Mission Control paid tribute to the late astronaut for whom the Cygnus is dedicated: G. David Low.

Low flew three times on space shuttles, then went to work for Orbital Sciences to help in this new commercial space effort. He died of cancer in 2008 at age 52. His family attended the Cygnus launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

“To our great friend and colleague G. David Low. … This one’s for you,” Orbital Sciences said via Twitter.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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