Expedition 46 astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 7:26 a.m. EST while the space station was flying above Bolivia. Earlier, ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center had maneuvered Cygnus into place for its departure.
Once the spacecraft is a safe distance from the station, its engines will fire twice, pushing it into Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. The deorbit burn and re-entry of Cygnus will not air on NASA TV.
The Cygnus resupply craft arrived to the space station on Dec. 9, following Dec. 6 launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for the company’s fourth NASA-contracted commercial station resupply mission.
Experiments delivered on Cygnus supported NASA and other research investigations during Expeditions 45 and 46, in areas such as biology, biotechnology, and physical and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station