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Cygnus cargo ship arrives at space station

Cygnus NG-17 arrives at the International Space Station.
Cygnus NG-17 arrives at the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA)

Northrop Grumman’s 17th Cygnus resupply mission arrived at the International Space Station on Monday, delivering 8,300 pounds (3,765 kilograms) of scientific experiments, food and other supplies. 

NASA astronaut Raja Chari captured the vehicle at 4:44 a.m. EST (0944 GMT) with the space station's robotic arm, while the two spacecraft flew over the Indian Ocean. A little over two hours later, at 7:02 a.m. EST (1202 GMT), the robotic arm attached Cygnus NG-17 to the space station's Unity module. 

During the procedure, Chari controlled the robotic arm, which smoothly grappled the Cygnus spacecraft with its end-effectors, from the Cupola window on the Tranquility node of the space station. Fellow NASA Expedition 66 astronaut Kayla Barron assisted during the procedure.

Cygnus NG-17 will remain at the space station until about late May. During this time, the spacecraft will perform its first ever reboost of the orbital outpost. The reboost is a maneuver designed to push the space station to a slightly higher altitude to counteract the drag of Earth’s residual atmosphere, which pulls the ISS down over time. 

Related: In photos: See the Antares rocket's Cygnus NG-13 cargo ship launch to space station

The mission launched Saturday (Feb. 19) atop an Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Originally developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the spacecraft is now manufactured and operated by U.S. aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, which completed the purchase of Orbital Sciences Corporation in 2018. 

This mission’s  spacecraft is named S.S. Piers Sellers, after the late NASA astronaut and former director of the agency's Earth Science Division. Sellers spent 35 days in space during three space shuttle missions and worked on the space station's assembly throughout the 2000s. 

Astronauts may start unloading cargo from Cygnus on Monday (Feb. 21), NASA said in a press conference on Friday (Feb. 18), although the bulk of the work is scheduled to begin on Tuesday (Feb. 22). 

In addition to a solar array power augmentation kit, new Canadarm2 lighting and other experiments and equipment, Cygnus delivered some treats for the astronauts including fresh avocados, tomatoes, grapefruits, pears and blueberries.

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Tereza Pultarova
Senior Writer

Tereza is a London-based science and technology journalist, aspiring fiction writer and amateur gymnast. Originally from Prague, the Czech Republic, she spent the first seven years of her career working as a reporter, script-writer and presenter for various TV programmes of the Czech Public Service Television. She later took a career break to pursue further education and added a Master's in Science from the International Space University, France, to her Bachelor's in Journalism and Master's in Cultural Anthropology from Prague's Charles University. She worked as a reporter at the Engineering and Technology magazine, freelanced for a range of publications including Live Science, Space.com, Professional Engineering, Via Satellite and Space News and served as a maternity cover science editor at the European Space Agency.