CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A commercial cargo ship has ended its monthlong space station visit.
Early Friday, astronauts aboard the International Space Station released the Cygnus supply ship, now full of trash for disposal.
Orbital Sciences Corp. launched the Cygnus from Virginia in mid-July under a NASA contract. The unmanned craft hauled more than 3,000 pounds of crucial cargo to the orbiting outpost. Now it's loaded with rubbish, some 3,500 pounds' worth.
On Sunday, Orbital Sciences will steer the craft down through the atmosphere to burn up. The six space station astronauts will attempt to record the fiery re-entry for engineering analysis. The same documentation will be done when a European supply ship departs early next year. That ship, launched from French Guiana, delivered its shipment just a few days ago.