Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is open for business just five hours after it was attached to the International Space Station today. The Expedition 63 crew will now begin unloading almost four tons of crew supplies, new science experiments and an advanced space toilet.
After standard depressurization and configuration activities, Commander Chris Cassidy opened the hatch to Cygnus. He entered the cargo craft wearing goggles and a mask to protect against potential dust and debris which is normal procedure when entering a docked cargo ship for the first time. The U.S. resupply ship will stay attached to the Unity module until mid-December when its cargo mission ends.
Cassidy and Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner spent Monday morning monitoring Cygnus approach and rendezvous following its Friday night launch. Cassidy gave the command for the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at 5:32 a.m. EDT today. Mission controllers then took over the Canadarm2 and remotely installed Cygnus to Unity about an hour-and-a-half later.
Vagner later joined his fellow cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for medical tests while wearing the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit. The specialized suit prevents blood from pooling toward a crew member’s head, a common space symptom called “puffy face,” that may cause head pressure and vision issues. The duo also worked on a variety of Russian science and maintenance tasks today.