Washington (AFP) – The U.S. company Orbital Sciences successfully launched Wednesday its first non-manned capsule Cygnus to resupply the International Space Station under a NASA contract
Orbital was selected by the U.S. space agency with the Californian company SpaceX to deliver cargo to the ISS. In May 2012, SpaceX was the first private company to dock his ship, Dragon, the company station. She then made two more flights of cargo delivery to the ISS.
two-stage rocket carrying Cygnus, was torn from the ground at 2:58 p.m. GMT (10:58 local) from the center of Wallops Flight, located on an island near the coast of Virginia (southeast).
Cygnus is separated from the second stage of the launcher ten minutes after launch to reach orbit shortly after and start to deploy its two solar arrays.
capsule then began his chase to reach the space station at 415 km altitude it will join Sunday 11:30 GMT to mark the fourth visit of a private ship to the ISS.
“This launch is a major step in our program of supplies to the ISS,” said the CEO of Orbital Sciences, Frank Culbertson.
this first flight, Cygnus, capable of carrying two tons of cargo, carries 700 pounds of supplies including food and clothing. It will remain docked to the ISS thirty days.
Cygnus consists of two elements: the pressurized module where freight, built by Thales Alenia Space, a subsidiary of French group Thales and Italy’s Finmeccanica, and the service module. The latter, produced by Orbital Sciences, contains avionics, the electrical generator powered by two solar and orbital propulsion system antennas.
his return, Cygnus will be destroyed in the atmosphere
Two of the six astronauts Station crew will use the robotic arm to grasp Cygnus prior to docking. The occupants of the ISS – three Russians, two Americans and one Italian – start the next day to unload the goods. They then charge Cygnus with Station waste.
Unlike SpaceX Dragon capsule, Cygnus can not return to Earth will be destroyed by falling into the atmosphere over the Pacific.
NASA, these private flights that carry cargo to the ISS, “are essential,” said Alan Lindenmoyer front, head of manned space flight program and cargo release to the ISS.
“NASA can focus on manned exploration of the farthest space,” he added.
agency bet on partnerships with the private sector to reduce the access to LEO cost.
Under a contract of $ 1.9 billion with Orbital Sciences, the firm will deliver twenty tons of cargo to the ISS in eight flights spread until early 2016 the first of which is scheduled for December.
SpaceX has a contract of $ 1.6 billion with NASA also carry at least twenty tons of cargo during twelve flights to the ISS, two of which have already been made. She will perform the remaining ten flights by 2015.
SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada were also selected by NASA to develop each private vessel capable of transporting people to the ISS.
cargo, NASA also uses automatic vessels European ATV, Japanese HTV and Russian Progress which are destroyed after their mission falling into the atmosphere.
Since the end of the space shuttle in 2011, the United States depend on Russian Soyuz to transport their astronauts to the ISS, paying $ 70.7 million headquarters.
Wallops base was mainly used until recently to start small suborbital craft and scientific balloons.
SpaceX launches Dragon with its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral base in Florida.
Orbital Sciences conducts launches of commercial and military satellites. The company employs 3,600 people. Its turnover reached 1.5 billion in 2012.