Cygnus captured by the ISS

Cygnus capture

Cygnus captured by the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. (credit: NASA TV)

While it was a week later than planned, Sunday morning’s arrival of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s first Cygnus spacecraft went even better than planned. The spacecraft smoothly passed through a series of demonstrations as it maneuvered ever closer to the station. In fact, the arrival of Cygnus went so smoothly the capture of the spacecraft by the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm took place 15 minutes ahead of schedule, at 7:00 am EDT (1100 GMT). There was one drawback to that efficiency: the capture took place during a gap in live video coverage, which meant early risers in North America who got up to watch the capture on NASA TV instead saw a computer animation driven by telemetry until video came back a couple minutes later!

The arm is now moving Cygnus into position to be berthed to the station Harmony node, which should take place around 9 am EDT (1300 GMT) Sunday. (Update: berthing also took place a little ahead of schedule, at 8:44 am EDT (1244 GMT). And, as it turns out, that berthing also took place during a gap in live video coverage.) Hatches between Cygnus and the station are slated to open on Monday. A press conference at 1 pm EDT (1700 GMT) on NASA TV should offer more details about the capture and berthing.

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