New Commercial Rocket Sends Supplies To International Space Station

The Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft launches from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The International Space Station will get a fresh batch of supplies from a new delivery device this weekend. On Sunday the Cygnus cargo spacecraft will dock with the space station.

The Cygnus delivery, launched by Orbital Sciences Corporation on Thursday, joins SpaceX as the second commercial delivery provider to the ISS.

Johnson Space Center Spokesman Josh Byerly says the Cygnus will deliver nearly 3,000 pounds of cargo on Sunday.

"There's a lot of crew supplies on board. You know, the usual things like clothing that they need and things like that. But the cool thing is that there's a lot of science on board, there's actually 23 different student experiments on board that's going to involve between 8,000 and 9,000 students across the country and including in Canada. And this is real science that they're looking at, it's everything from stem cells, to how ants behave in space."

The Cygnus is the first of eight planned cargo deliveries using Orbital Science's Antares rocket.

Unlike the SpaceX vehicle, which returns to Earth, bringing back the results of science experiments, the Cygnus is destroyed upon reentry.

"But that helps us because you can imagine the space station still needs to be able to get rid of trash. And that's what they do is they pack Orbital Science's Cygnus full of things they don't need anymore."

Byerly says the cargo spacecraft will remain docked with the ISS until February 18th.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...