Astronauts Release U.S. Spacecraft Completing Cargo Mission

Cygnus Released
The Cygnus cargo craft slowly departs the space station after its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 56 Flight Engineers Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus cargo spacecraft at 8:37 a.m. EDT. At the time of release, the station was flying 253 miles above the Southeastern border of Colombia. Earlier, ground controllers used the robotic arm to unberth Cygnus.

The departing spacecraft will move a safe distance away from the space station before deploying a series of CubeSats. Cygnus will remain in orbit for two more weeks to allow a flight control team to conduct engineering tests.

Cynus is scheduled to deorbit with thousands of pounds of trash on Monday, July 30, as it burns up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean while entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The satellite deployment and deorbit burn will not be broadcast on NASA Television.

The spacecraft arrived on station May 24 delivering cargo for Orbital ATK’s (now Northrop Grumman’s) ninth contracted mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit

5 thoughts on “Astronauts Release U.S. Spacecraft Completing Cargo Mission”

  1. How does it enter Earth’s atmosphere? Is there a rocket attached to it to enable it to enter Earth’s atmosphere? How’s deorbiting done? The whole spacecraft is burned or only the trash ?

    1. The deorbiting Cygnus spacecraft fires its engine slowing its orbital speed, also known as a braking maneuver. The spacecraft then begins its descent into the Earth’s atmosphere, harmlessly burning up over the Pacific Ocean.

  2. This is a great accomplishment for the engineer a community and scientists of that. I’m retired from Lockheed Martin, and I am following the publications for the space station. Great Job

  3. What’s the plan with the thousands of pounds of trash you are depositing during the deorbit. Is it ecologically viable? I there a reason you are commenting that it will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

    1. The cargo ship will burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean on July 30 after series of engineering activities. NASA TV does not cover cargo craft reentering Earth’s atmosphere due to its routine nature and its extreme distance from the station.

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