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Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft successfully completes rendezvous and berthing with International Space Station

(24 May 2018 - Orbital ATK) Orbital ATK today announced that the “S.S. J.R. Thompson” Cygnus spacecraft successfully completed its rendezvous and berthing maneuvers with the International Space Station earlier this morning. This marks the company’s ninth successful berthing with the orbiting laboratory.

Cygnus launched into orbit aboard an Orbital ATK Antares rocket at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on May 21. The spacecraft then executed a series of thruster burns over the next couple of days to raise its orbit and reach the space station. Once Cygnus was in close range, crew members grappled the spacecraft with the station’s robotic arm at 5:26 a.m. EDT. Cygnus was then guided to its berthing port on the nadir side of the station’s Unity module and officially installed to the space station at 8:13 a.m. EDT.

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The International Space Station’s robotic arm is seen grappling Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft on May 24, 2018. (courtesy: NASA TV)

“Against the backdrop of a flawless rendezvous and berthing, Cygnus once again demonstrated its ability to perform as a trusted and valued mission partner to NASA and the crew on the International Space Station,” said Frank Culbertson, President of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group. “Once we finish delivering vital supplies and scientific equipment, our work continues after departure with the deployment of several CubeSats. These secondary missions further highlight the flexibility and versatility of Cygnus beyond cargo delivery and disposal.”

Cygnus arrived at the station with approximately 7,400 pounds (3,350) kilograms) of cargo, supplies and scientific experiments. The crew is now scheduled to open Cygnus's hatch and make initial ingress into the cargo module to begin unloading the pressurized cargo. Cygnus will remain docked at the station for seven weeks before departing with up to 7,100 pounds (approximately 3,200 kilograms) of disposable cargo.

After departure, a NanoRacks deployer will release six CubeSats. Upon completion of this secondary mission, Cygnus will perform a safe, destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

Under the CRS-1 contract with NASA, Orbital ATK will deliver approximately 66,000 pounds (30,000 kilograms) of cargo to the International Space Station. Beginning in 2019, Orbital ATK will carry out a minimum of six initial cargo missions under NASA’s follow-on CRS-2 contract. This partnership is cultivating a robust American commercial space industry, freeing NASA to focus on developing the next-generation rocket and spacecraft that will enable humans to conduct deep space exploration missions.

In keeping with Orbital ATK’s practice, the OA-9 spacecraft is named in honor of those who made significant contributions to America’s human spaceflight programs. OA-9 is dedicated to J.R. Thompson, a distinguished leader in the aerospace industry. Thompson directed the operations of Orbital ATK’s predecessor company, Orbital Sciences Corporation for nearly 25 years and also served as NASA’s Deputy Administrator in Washington, D.C. from 1989-1991.

About Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs approximately 14,000 people across the U.S. and in several international locations.