WASHINGTON, January 12, 10:15 /ITAR-TASS/. A new U.S. space freighter Cygnus is to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday.
The docking, which will last more than two hours, will begin at 05:00 EST (14:00 Moscow time) on Sunday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reported.
When the Cygnus will approach the orbital station at a distance of about 10 metres on the order from the Earth, U.S. astronaut Michael Hopkins will catch it with a 17-metre robotic arm Canadarm, which the Canadian Space Agency had produced for the ISS. This operation is to be done at 15:02 Moscow time (11:02 GMT). Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who is to bring the space freighter to the docking compartment on the U.S. module Harmony, will safeguard Hopkins. NASA astronaut Richard Mastracchio will be a back-up crewman at this stage of the docking due at 16:20 Moscow time (12:20 GMT) on Sunday.
The rocket Antares has launched the Cygnus to the ISS on January 9 from a NASA spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia, on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. At first the rocket launch was scheduled at December 19, 2013, but it was delayed over a malfunction in the cooling system on the U.S. segment of the ISS that made the astronauts going on a spacewalk to eliminate this break. When the malfunction was eliminated, the launch was slated on January 7, but it was delayed due to a strong solar storm in the Earth’s magnetic field that threatened the electric equipment of the rocket with breakdowns.
The freight spaceship Cygnus, which like the booster, was created by private U.S. company Orbital Sciences, is delivering more than 1.3 tonnes of different cargoes, including food, water, spare parts, equipment and material for scientific experiments to the crewmembers of the 38th ISS expedition.
Meanwhile, the Cygnus is to bring gifts and congratulatory cards for Christmas and New Year to the ISS crew. As the launch was postponed these cargoes will be brought to the ISS crew after the holidays, but all the same the crewmen will be happy about them.
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Sergey Ryazansky and Mikhail Tyurin are working together with two U.S. astronauts and a Japanese astronaut onboard the ISS.
On the flight back to the Earth the Cygnus will take all the garbage from the ISS and will burn down in the Earth atmosphere with it. The Cygnus is to undock from the ISS in mid-February, vacating a docking module for another U.S. space freighter Dragon, which private Californian company SpaceX had built.
Four months ago the Cygnus has made a successful maiden flight to the orbital station. According to the agreement between NASA and Orbital Sciences this type of spaceship will make seven flights to the ISS within next three years. The contract is estimated at 1.9 billion dollars.
Meanwhile, the Dragon is the only shuttle resupply vehicle in the world and is orbited by the rocket Falcon-9. In 2012-2013 this space freighter has already docked twice with the ISS and is to fly on ten other missions to the ISS under the contract worth of 1.6 billion dollars. Its next mission is scheduled for the second half of February.