JOHNSON SPACE CENTER — The Cygnus commercial spacecraft departed the International Space Station Tuesday, completing a successful demonstration that will allow Orbital Sciences Corporation to begin regular resupply missions to the station.

The ship, which launched on Sept. 19 and docked with the station about 10 days later, carried about 1,300 pounds of clothing, food and other supplies. Astronauts loaded the Cygnus with about 2,850 pounds of trash before detaching the craft with the station’s giant robotic arm. 

The craft is headed for a “destructive re-entry” in the Earth’s atmosphere Wednesday afternoon above the Pacific Ocean.

Orbital is now the second private company to successfully send a cargo ship to the space station.

The company is on track to launch another Cygnus spacecraft to the station in December as part of the company’s $1.9 billion commercial resupply services contract with NASA.


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