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In Pictures: Cygnus Takes out the Trash

Posted by Jason Davis

19-02-2016 13:08 CST

Topics: commercial spaceflight, pretty pictures, human spaceflight, International Space Station

Early this morning, astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra released a Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station. Cygnus, which arrived in December, spent more than two months on orbit—longer than originally planned, giving the crew more time to fill the spacecraft with trash.

Flight controllers at Orbital ATK in Virginia will send Cygnus into Earth's atmosphere for a controlled reentry Saturday morning. The next ISS resupply flight is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, when a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket sends another Cygnus craft into orbit

Prior to that, one-year cremembers Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, along with cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, will return to Earth on March 1. About two weeks later, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin will launch to the station aboard Soyuz TMA-20M, joining the crew of Expedition 47.

Here are some images and video from today's Cygnus departure.

Cygnus OA-4 and Soyuz TMA-19M

Tim Peake / ESA / NASA

Cygnus OA-4 and Soyuz TMA-19M
Cygnus OA-4 moved into position for release

Scott Kelly / NASA

Cygnus OA-4 moved into position for release
Cygnus OA-4 over Bolivia

Scott Kelly / NASA

Cygnus OA-4 over Bolivia
Cygnus OA-4 departure

Tim Peake / ESA / NASA

Cygnus OA-4 departure
Into the void

Scott Kelly / NASA

Into the void
Cygnus OA-4 slips into darkness after being released from the International Space Station.
Empty Canadarm

Tim Peake / ESA / NASA

Empty Canadarm
The International Space Station's robotic Canadarm is empty after releasing the OA-4 Cygnus resupply vehicle.
See other posts from February 2016


Or read more blog entries about: commercial spaceflight, pretty pictures, human spaceflight, International Space Station


Squirreltape: 02/23/2016 03:56 CST

Beautiful. I wonder, for a controlled re-entry Cygnus needs power but does it need both of those gorgeous solar arrays?... if battery power would suffice, would it be advantageous to use/store these arrays on station rather than burning them up? Having access to a growing supply of solar arrays might prove to be useful if we expand our infrastructure into LEO or cis-lunar space. If not, could they supplement the ISS power production in any meaningful way if the benefits outweighed the risk of cannibalizing these items?

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