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Cygnus spacecraft successfully docks with ISS after delay

Washington, Oct 1 (): The privately-owned cargo ship Cygnus freighter, carrying about 700 kg (1500 lb) of food and other supplies, has successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday.

Xinhua reported, the unmanned Cygnus spacecraft was grappled by the ship’s huge robotic arm operated by astronauts from inside the space station at about 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT). Cygnus will remain attached to the ISS for 30 days before departing with disposal cargo on board.

The new vehicle, Cygnus unmanned spacecraft is developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) and has its technology based on a mix of GPS, inertial navigation and lidar.

Cygnus is one of the two commercial ventures seeded by NASA and is on a demonstration mission to prove its technology. NASA has seeded this venture to pick up America’s ISS re-supply requirements following the retirement of the space shuttles.

Cygnus parked itself about 10m under the station, within reach of the Canadarm2. Astronauts – Italian Luca Parmitano and American Karen Nyberg operated a robotic limb, which then handled the freighter and pulled it into the ISS’s Harmony module. The securing of bolts mating Cygnus to Harmony occurred at 1244 GMT, when the ISS was moving over the Indian Ocean.

The astronauts will begin unloading its cargo – some 680 kilograms of supplies, including clothing and food on Monday.

Cygnus overcame a software problem and an additional delay caused by the arrival of a Soyuz capsule on Wednesday. It was supposed to reach the space station last Sunday, but was held up by inaccurate navigation data, later fixed by a software patch.

The docking went forward after Orbital Sciences uploaded a software fix for a navigation data mismatch that occurred during its approach on September 22.

If this test mission by Orbital Science becomes successful, it will begin regularly scheduled cargo delivery missions to the ISS under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA. Spacex’s Dragon is scheduled to make at least 12 more flights by 2016 under a contract valued at about $1.6 billion.