Private companies are once again helping NASA achieve its missions. SpaceX has grabbed most of the news, but Orbital Sciences is another company on the move. Orbital's Antares rocket launched this past weekend with the its Cygnus spacecraft on board, filled with 3,300 lbs of valuable supplies for our astronauts in the ISS. Supplies on the Cygnus spacecraft include:
- Nanosatellites designed to take images of Earth. The more pics, the better!
- TechEdSat-4, which will help small samples to be returned to Earth from the space station.Being able to send small samples back to the planet, instead of needing to launch a retrievable spacecraft to collect it, will result in much quicker experiment turnaround.
- Satellites (SPHERES) to enable 3-D mapping and robotic navigation inside the space station.
After the supplies are moved from the Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS, Cygnus gets trashed. No, Cygnus doesn't stop by a local bar - the astronauts literally fill the spacecraft with trash and send it back down to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Gotta go out with a bang!
Check out an amazing pic by one of NASA's incredible photographers: