Orbital Sciences completes third mission to International Space Station

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Orbital Sciences Corp. announced Monday that it had successfully completed its third cargo-delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft left the ISS on Aug. 15 and re-entered the earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean East of New Zealand on Sunday morning. The mission began July 13 when an Orbital Antares rocket launched the spacecraft into orbit from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Eastern Virginia.

Now, Orbital has completed its initial test flight and two missions under its $1.9 billion resupply contract with NASA to bring supplies to the space station. Under the contract, Orbital is delivering up to 44,000 pounds of cargo to the space station over eight missions by 2016. The supplies include food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts and equipment and scientific experiments.

The next mission, which will be its heaviest yet, is scheduled to launch in mid-October. That mission will send 5,050 pounds of cargo and scientific payloads to the ISS.

This most recent mission brought 3,669 pounds of cargo and science payloads to ISS and was loaded with 3,550 pounds of trash by astronauts at the station.

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